Corporates to come under proposed anti-graft law
Official sources said the chiefs of the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have been called in by a parliamentary standing committee next week to give their views in this regard.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, is examining the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Act-2011 aimed at criminalising foreign bribery and offences thereof.
The Act has been passed by the Lok Sabha and awaiting nod from the upper house of Parliament. "A letter has been sent to the CVC, CBI and ED seeking their response through an in-person presentation/submission on the matter. They have been asked to appear before the Committee on January 24," a source said.
"The Committee is also considering to bring corporates or private industrial houses in the ambit of the proposed bill," he added.
The Bill prohibits accepting gratification by foreign public officials as also giving gratification to foreign public officials, while also proposing provisions for rendering assistance and cooperation among nations and making the offence punishable to a minimum of six months jail term to a maximum of seven years.
It also envisages provisions for attachment, seizure and confiscation etc., of property in a contracting State or India and extradition of accused persons.
Foreign bribery is not covered under any domestic anti-corruption laws at present. The sources said the committee is likely to finalise its recommendations within a month, and then the Bill will be sent to the Rajya Sabha for its nod.
They said that the committee has already met with the representatives of industries bodies like the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others, to discuss various provisions under it.
"Stakeholders are understood to have favoured legal net for corporates to ensure transparency and check corruption.
The proposed amendments will be in conformity with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Anti Bribery Convention of Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)," a source said.
The head of country`s anti-corruption watchdog CVC, Pradeep Kumar has also favoured a legislation to bring corporates under the purview of another anti-graft law, Lokpal.
Currently, no government body including the CVC has powers to check corruption in private firms. Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently rejected a proposal for donning the role of an anti-corruption watchdog for private companies — similar to the role of the CVC for government entities.