The Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with more than 100 private companies, with the latest private sector entity to join the anti-corruption effort being JT International (Cambodia) Co Ltd (JTI Cambodia).

The latest MoU was signed by ACU head Om Yentieng and JTI Cambodia CEO Roy Manalili in Phnom Penh on April 21.

“This MoU reflects a willingness to cooperate in anti-corruption measures with the ACU. In addition to the most recent signing, 103 other national and international companies, chambers of commerce, associations, and public institutions have entered into the same agreement,” said an ACU press statement.

Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said the signing of MoUs between the state and the private sector was one of the strongest mechanisms the ACU could employ to prevent the corrupt practises and bribery which many companies had encountered.

“I think that this is an initiative the ACU is using to assist companies to operate clean businesses,” he said.

He added that the MoU did have a wider scope, but most importantly, it could be a means for companies to avoid bribery or paying under-the-table money.

He encouraged the government to make it more possible for companies to operate in a “clean” way, saying it would create an equal investment atmosphere.

“Big and small companies must abide by the law in the same way. Whether or not a company is party to this MoU, they should comply. The government should create mechanisms which protect all businesses against corruption,” he said.

Pisey said studies by his organisation found that corruption within the public sector in Cambodia remained widespread, in terms of providing services to the public and the private sector. He urged existing law enforcement bodies to reduce corruption.

In an April 21 statement, the ACU welcomed and encouraged the private sector to join it in combating corruption, to support the governments sweeping anti-corruption policies across the public and private sectors.

It said the policies aim to ensure transparency, accountability in conducting business or providing public services and an increase in investment that is favourable for fair competition and sustainable growth in Cambodia.