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SEC hopes to set up trading board for ‘clean’ firms

The Securities and Exchange Commission envisions setting up a trading board for selected companies in 2013. Coupled with auditors’ support in catching listed and non-listed companies’ pay-offs to politicians and civil servants, the watchdog hopes it can support the private sector’s effort to combat corruption.

“Our hope is there is a community in the capital market getting serious about this,” SEC deputy secretary-general Chalee Chantanaying-yong said at last week’s roundtable discussion hosted by Krungthep Turakij.

Panellists at the discussion highlighted the lack of political will for stalling the anti-graft effort in the public sector, which resulted in a lack of investment in IT and resources to enhance information transparency.

Progress has been obvious, however, in the private sector, which is planning further steps following the launch of the Collective Action Coalition Against Corruption earlier this year.

Suffering from political instability since 2006, big corporations see the need to initiate a voluntary effort to tame corruption believed to be the cause of the instability.

Already 23 companies have joined the campaign, with membership for six more companies expected to be ratified soon, said Somkiat Anuras, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, which took the lead in this campaign.

Next month, more companies will be recruited, while the transparency index will be announced in the fourth quarter as well as next year’s plans. On September 25, parades will run through Bangkok as well as the provinces to raise anti-corruption awareness.

“Widespread corruption benefits no one. Businesses will eventually lose if Thailand can no longer attract foreign investment,” Somkiat said.

In eradicating corruption, Chalee of the SEC |sees the need to support good organisations and punish those with poor corporate governance. Several private organisations |are attempting to do good deeds through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes and fighting corruption is a feature of them.

Later this year, the SEC will issue two CSR manuals as guidelines for listed companies that want to achieve sustainable best practices in economic, environmental and social aspects.

As the guidelines will be implemented next year, listed companies will be subject to CSR reporting and examination in 2013.

Companies with close compliance will be rewarded and a special board for them could be established. Talks with fund managers show that if there are up to 30 companies on the board, a mutual fund could be offered particularly to invest in the companies, mobilising funds from foundations and organisations that are ready to support “clean” ventures.

“Hopefully, if some good examples emerge, the momentum is there to grow. At least, their competitors will try to improve themselves,” he said.

On punishing wrongdoers, Chalee sees the need in getting help from auditors, who have to endorse the booking of all kinds of corporate payments. Following accounting mishaps that led to the 2008 financial crisis, international accounting rules are being revised and Chalee expects that Thailand’s requirements would be in the same direction.

If accounting irregularities are found in listed companies’ books,

auditors should alert the SEC, which would then forward the cases to government units. In case of non-listed companies, notifications should be filed with the Revenue Department. Suspicious transactions, probably bribes to politicians or civil servants, would then be spotted.

Somkiat said that even without political will, all that matters in combating corruption is the action plan and involvement of stakeholders. Chalee added that everyone must |take this as a duty and start doing what he can, or nothing will be accomplished.

Source: The Nation

ThaiVest Editorial Team

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