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Anti-graft fight winning allies

Bangkok Post, October 16, 2014 - Thailand's awareness of endemic corruption is gaining ground, with 60% of listed companies putting anti-corruption practices on the front burner.

According to the Thaipat Institute's 2013 assessment of listed companies' anti-corruption measures, 60% of 567 companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI) placed priority on anti-corruption practices, and 19 of them have been certified by the Collective Action Coalition (CAC).

The Thaipat's Institute's anti-corruption progress indicator is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiative under the sustainability development roadmap for listed companies, emphasising running operations with good corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and a firm commitment against corruption.

The anti-corruption progress indicator shows that 344 companies attained Level 1 or higher, indicating a commitment at the managerial and organisational levels to adopt the policy to refrain from corruption, said SEC secretary-general Vorapol Socatiyanurak.

Among the 567 listed companies, 472 are listed on the SET and the rest on the MAI. Another nine listed companies have achieved Level 4 as CAC certified members after the completion of last year's assessment, raising the number to 28.

"The assessment allowed each company to realise its anti-corruption development level and thus enabled the company to apply such information to business strategies," Mr Vorapol said.

"Investors are able to learn of listed companies' commitment and policy against corruption from securities firms' analysis reports prepared by taking into account the information and anti-corruption progress indicator."

He said those investing in mutual funds could help to support anti-corruption practices by choosing funds under the management of those who invested in companies adopting anti-corruption practices.

More than 200 companies have yet to disclose their intent against corruption, and the SEC plans to raise awareness among them for future assessment, Mr Vorapol added.

Voravan Tarapoom, chairwoman of both the Association of Investment Management Companies and the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations, said institutional investors comprising asset management companies, securities, insurance and life-insurance companies, the Government Pension Fund and Social Security Office had put in place policies against corruption and achieved Level 1 or higher.

To achieve further success, they are in the process of applying for CAC certification.