BRUNEI-MUARA – More companies have joined the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact to unite against corruption in the industry’s business dealings.

Twenty-two members were added to the pact in 2019, bringing the total number of signatory companies to 64. The pact was established in 2017 with 10 founding members made up of established oil and gas companies in Brunei.

Under the pact, the companies are required to incorporate 10 principles into their operations to ensure appropriate internal controls are in place to assess, prevent, detect, and monitor integrity and compliance risks.

Kannan Govindasamy, chairman of the pact’s working group committee, said the group needs to be a transparent organisation.

“If there is a breach of compliance, we will take that onboard, investigate and make sure we identify the right consequences for them,” he said during an event to welcome new members at The Empire Brunei on Tuesday.

Commenting on recent corruption cases, Govindasamy, who is the ethics and compliance manager at Brunei Shell Petroleum, said every member of the integrity pact should have a robust control framework to detect violations and people are willing to speak freely without any fear of retaliation.

“There is no point in hiding if something is wrong. The cases mentioned in the press came from a whistleblower and that means the control framework is working,” he told The Scoop on the sidelines of the event.

Earlier in November, a retired Brunei Shell Petroleum employee was charged with corruption after he was alleged to be in possession of “unexplained property”.

In a separate case, eight crew members of an oil vessel were jailed for unauthorised sale of fuel. Govindasamy said the case falls under the umbrella of corruption because the convicted seamen stole the assets.

“This issue also came through a whistleblower… and that means in that organisation, people observed that something is not right and then reported it and we, for transparency brought that issue to the authority to be investigated which resulted in what you have seen in the newspaper,” he added.

The group in its statement said the companies will also partner with the Ministry of Energy and Anti-Corruption Bureau to foster continued collaboration and dialogue on business integrity.

By agreeing to the pact, the industry is conveying its zero-tolerance message that any company lacking integrity and transparency will not have the opportunity to do business with any of the oil and gas operators in Brunei, the statement read.

Deputy minister at the Ministry of Energy, Hj Matsatejo Sokiaw speaks duing an event for the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact on Nov 26, 2019 Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Deputy Minister of Energy Hj Matsatejo Sokiaw in his speech said companies under the pact must continue to endorse the highest integrity standards as role models for others.

“It is our collective responsibility to lead by example in the fight against corruption and to operate businesses ethically and with integrity.

According to the Corruption Perception Index 2018 published by Transparency International, Brunei ranked 31 out of 180 countries worldwide and placed second in Southeast Asia.

“The data also showed that the least corrupt countries are those who are doing well in their economic development. Transparency and accountability practices are also prerequisites to our economic development and must be adopted at all levels whether in businesses or government,” the deputy minister said.