BRUNEI-MUARA – Brunei’s energy industry has vowed to clean up its act, adding a larger number of oil and gas operators to the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact.

Building on the original 10 partners of the pact — which was first launched in 2017 to promote transparent and fair business dealings — the working group on Thursday expanded the number to 42 saying the oil and gas industry needed to ensure a zero tolerance policy towards corruption.

Chair of the working group, Daniel Elustondo, who is also the ethics and compliance manager of Brunei Shell Petroleum, said the pact was expanded to cover the whole energy industry and not just the Brunei Shell Joint Venture companies.

“I won’t say it is an audit, but it is a kind of self-monitoring system where we would ensure that everyone is implementing the pact’s 10 principles,” he told The Scoop in an interview. “The intention long term is [for the partners] to do a more structured self-assessment.”

Elustondo added that all the partner companies will meet quarterly to discuss best practices to identify and close gaps “where we feel we have weaknesses”.

The 10 principles outlined in the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact are:

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  • Prohibition of bribery and facilitation payments in business activities
  • Code of Conduct in place and principles disseminated to staff and contractors
  • Consistent consequence management for violations of the code and principles
  • Visible training programmes and communication in place
  • Disclosure and avoidance of conflicts of interest
  • Avoidance of gifts and hospitality which can lead to perceived influence or conflicts
  • Governance and internal controls/policies in place
  • Raising concerns, whistleblowing mechanisms, speaking up free of retaliation
  • Investigations conducted impartially, fairly, and in timely fashion; full collaboration with Anti-Corruption Bureau
  • Zero tolerance; refrain from doing business with those who demonstrate poor integrity and ethical practices
Chair of the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact Working Group, Daniel Elustondo, in an interview with The Scoop. Photo: Rasidah HAB/The Scoop

However the pact is no guarantee of a corruption-free environment, but will help build a stronger culture of transparency, said Elustondo.

“Even at BSP, in the past we have had isolated incidents of these [corruption cases] despite all our efforts to put anti-corruption measures in place,” he added, referring to the jailing of eight BSP employees for accepting kickbacks from a Malaysian contractor between 2007 and 2009, which resulted in $5 million in losses.

After the string of graft cases, Elustondo said BSP refreshed its code of conduct and implemented a new anti-bribery management system, for which it is now seeking international certification.

During the event on Thursday, Minister of Energy, Manpower and Industry, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Hj Mat Suny Hj Mohd Hussein, stressed that upholding business integrity should be a fundamental pillar across both the private and public sectors.

“No one person or entity shall be exempted from this. Having business integrity in itself fuels trust and transparency, which fuels credibility and reliability,” he said.

“These elements are important, not just for attracting new industries to diversify the local economy, but also for the retention and growth of existing industries in Brunei.”

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