Corruption in Singapore Remains Low
Singapore is well known for its clean and incorrupt system. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 has ranked Singapore as the 6th least corrupt country in the world. Singapore has also maintained its first-place in the 2017 Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) annual survey on corruption.
2. At the opening of CPIB’s Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre (CRHC) in June 2017, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore’s progress depends on keeping the country clean and corruption-free. The courts, the Government and public servants must continue to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity while the public also plays an important role to maintain our social norms to eschew corruption. Our founding leaders left us a clean system, built up over more than half a century. It is a legacy that we should be proud of and do our utmost to protect.
Complaints Received by CPIB and Cases Registered for Investigation Remain Low
3. In 2017, CPIB received a total of 778 complaints, a 3.7% drop from the 808 complaints received in 2016 (Figure 1). All corruption complaints received by the CPIB are evaluated by the Complaints Evaluation Committee (CEC), and a case is registered for investigation if the information received is pursuable. The number of cases registered for investigation by the CPIB also fell slightly from 118 cases in 2016 to 103 cases in 2017, which is a new all-time low.
Figure 1: Number of Complaints Received by CPIB vs Cases Registered for Investigation
4. The complaints received by the CPIB were both corruption-related and non-corruption-related. For the past three years, about half the complaints received by the CPIB were corruption-related (Figure 2). In 2017, there was a drop of 17.7% in the number of corruption-related complaints to 368, from 447 in 2016. The quality and amount of relevant information of the corruption complaint received determine whether the case can be pursued. The majority of non-pursuable corruption complaints were due to insufficient, vague or unsubstantiated information provided. For non-corruption related complaints, the CPIB will refer them to the relevant government agencies for action, if applicable.
Figure 2: Corruption and Non-corruption Related Complaints Received by CPIB
Corruption Complaints Lodged in Person Remain the Most Effective Mode
5. Members of the public may report suspected acts of corruption to the CPIB in person, via its phone hotline, email, CPIB website or by mail / fax. In 2017, the largest proportion of complaints received by the CPIB was from the e-Complaint module on its website (42%), an increase of 8% from 34% in 2016 (Figure 3). In 2016, most complaints were by mail / fax, comprising 35% of all complaints. However, while the majority of the complaints received in 2017 were via its website and mail / fax (total 74%), these accounted for only 17% of the cases registered for investigation (Figure 4). On the other hand, the 5% of complaints lodged in-person accounted for 23% of the cases registered for investigation. Complaints lodged in-person remain the most effective as the CPIB could obtain more detailed information from the complainants.
Figure 3: Breakdown of the Number of Complaints by Modes of Complaints
Figure 4: Breakdown of the Number of Complaints which Resulted in Investigation by Modes of Complaints
6. The CPIB takes a serious view of all complaints with an undertone of corruption. The public is strongly encouraged to report any suspected acts of corruption to the CPIB (see the table below for information to include in a corruption complaint). Under the law, a complainant’s identity will be kept confidential, even in court proceedings.
What to include in a corruption complaint:
- Where, when and how did the alleged corrupt act happen?
- Who was involved and what were their roles?
- How did you know about it?
- Why do you think it is a corruption offence?
- What is the bribe transacted or favour shown?
- Have you reported the matter to anyone else or/and any other authorities?
Private Sector Cases Continue to Form the Majority of Corruption Cases but the Number Remains Low
7. In 2017, private sector cases continued to form the majority (92%) of all the cases registered for investigation by the CPIB although the number remained low. Of the private sector cases, 10% involved public sector employees rejecting bribes offered by private individuals. The proportion of public sector cases remained low, accounting for 8% of all cases registered for investigation in 2017, as compared to 15% in 2016 (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Breakdown of the Cases Registered for Investigation by Private vs Public Sector
Majority of Individuals Prosecuted in Court were from the Private Sector
8. There is no significant trend in the number of individuals prosecuted for offences investigated by the CPIB over the past three years. In 2017, 141 individuals were charged in court for offences investigated by the CPIB, of which private sector employees made up 94% (Figure 6). The number of private sector individuals prosecuted increased by 32% to 132, as compared to 100 in 2016. However, this increase was mainly due to cases involving multiple accused persons who were charged in court in 2017 and not because of an increase in the number of cases. In terms of punishment for private sector corruption, custodial sentences continued to be meted out to the majority of private individuals for their corruption offences.
9. Public sector employees continued to form the minority of individuals prosecuted for corruption. In 2017, nine public sector employees were prosecuted in court. The number of prosecuted public employees remained low at an average of less than 10% for the last three years.
Figure 6: Public and Private Sector Employees Prosecuted in Court
10. Private sector corruption cases generally involved bribery in exchange for business contracts. Over the last four years, the three areas that continued to be of concern to the CPIB were:
i. Construction (e.g. building construction, addition and alteration works, renovation);
ii. Wholesale and retail businesses (e.g. supply of drill pipes, drilling equipment, tubular products, plywood, F&B, kitchen equipment, IT products & horticulture).
iii. Warehousing, transport and logistics services (e.g. freight forwarding service, removal service, tour bus service, passenger bus service, transporting chemical products & trucking service).
Two cases of interest, involving bribes given by staff members to further the business interests of their respective companies, are appended at Annex A.
11. A high-profile case involving overseas bribery saw Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (“KOM”) investigated for making corrupt payments between 2001 and 2014 to officials of Brazilian state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (“Petrobras”), and other parties, in order to win contracts with Petrobras and/or its related companies. Under a global resolution led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States of America and discussed with Brazil and Singapore, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (“DPA”) was entered into between the US DOJ and KOM. Pursuant to the DPA, KOM will pay a total criminal fine amounting to USD 422,216,980 to the USA, Brazil and Singapore. In Brazil, the Federal Public Ministry entered into a leniency agreement on similar terms to the US DPA. In Singapore, KOM was served a conditional warning by the CPIB in lieu of prosecution for corruption offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
12. The KOM case highlights that while corruption in Singapore remains low, there is a need for constant vigilance and a firm stance against corrupt practices that extends beyond Singapore’s shores. The CPIB does not condone any form of corrupt practices in Singapore or overseas. We strongly encourage Singapore companies, especially those with businesses overseas, to have a robust anti-corruption framework in place to prevent corrupt practices from occurring. Companies can refer to the CPIB’s PACT: A Practical Anti-Corruption Guide for Businesses in Singapore and/or consider adopting the Singapore Standard ISO 37001 - Anti-Bribery Management Systems, for the implementation of anti-bribery measures in their organisations.
Case Clearance Rate Remains Consistently High
13. The CPIB’s yearly caseload comprises uncompleted cases from the previous years, new cases registered from complaints received, and further new cases registered in the course of investigations. In 2017, the CPIB handled a total of 431 cases. These comprised 103 new cases registered in the year 2017, 232 new cases registered in the course of investigations and 96 uncompleted cases brought forward from 2016 (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Number of Cases handled
14. The CPIB has consistently achieved a high clearance rate annually, clearing 84% of cases in 2017 (Figure 8).
Figure 8: Yearly Case Clearance Rate
High Conviction Rate for CPIB Cases
15. The strong commitment by the CPIB and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to bring corrupt offenders to task has contributed to a consistently high conviction rate for corruption-related offences. The conviction rate for the past three years remained consistently high, above 97% (refer to Table 1 below).
Conviction Rate3 (%)
Table 1: CPIB's Conviction Rate
Public Outreach and Engagement
16. The CPIB complements its enforcement efforts with public outreach and engagement. The Bureau has stepped up its public education and engagement efforts to raise public awareness on corruption matters through new initiatives.
Official Opening of Corruption Reporting & Heritage Centre
17. The CPIB Corruption Reporting & Heritage Centre located at 247 Whitley Road was officially opened on 6 June 2017 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The two-in-one facility, which is near Stevens MRT station (Downtown Line), makes it more accessible and convenient for members of the public to lodge reports on corruption. Members of the public may make an e-Appointment via the CPIB website or walk in to the Centre to lodge corruption complaints. The Centre also houses a self-guided interactive gallery which showcases key milestones and events, artefacts and case exhibits from the Bureau’s rich history and heritage. Since its opening, the Centre has played host to many foreign and local visitors alike.
Private Sector Engagement
18. The CPIB, in partnership with SPRING Singapore, organised its first private sector seminar on 12 April 2017 to launch the Singapore Standard ISO 37001 - Anti-Bribery Management Systems. The Singapore Standard ISO 37001 was designed to help organisations establish, implement, maintain and improve their anti-bribery compliance programmes. It includes a series of measures that organisations must implement which represent globally recognised anti-bribery good practice. CPIB’s newest publication - PACT: A Practical Anti-Corruption Guide for Businesses in Singapore was distributed to various professional bodies, associations and industry stakeholders, and private/business sector conferences.
Online Persona “Kopi Lim” and Public Education Videos
19. To commemorate its 65th anniversary on 18 September 2017, the CPIB introduced an online persona “Kopi Lim”. A white polar bear, Kopi Lim is personified as a friendly, enthusiastic and inquisitive CPIB officer. Since its introduction, Kopi Lim has helped to reach out to the online community and educate the public on the perils of corruption and insights on CPIB’s work through social media. Kopi Lim has a following on CPIB’s Facebook Page (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Singapore). The Bureau had also recently produced two videos to educate the general public and students on the ills of corruption. Featuring real-life cases through enactment, several key messages are emphasized. The videos may be accessed on the CPIB’s YouTube channel (CPIB Singapore).
Doing Our Part to Fight Corruption
20. Singapore’s clean and incorrupt system is not a natural state of affairs. While the number of corruption cases in Singapore remains relatively low, there will always be those who will be tempted to break the rules and engage in corrupt practices. The CPIB takes a serious view of any corrupt practices and will not hesitate to take action against any party involved in such acts. Through our enforcement and public engagement efforts, the CPIB strives to combat corruption effectively, together with an informed community that rejects corruption. To help keep Singapore corruption-free, members of the public who know of or suspect any corrupt behaviour are encouraged to inform the CPIB.
21. Members of the public can report suspected acts of corruption via the following channels:
i) Visit or write to us at the CPIB Headquarters @ 2 Lengkok Bahru, S159047 or Corruption Reporting & Heritage Centre @ 247 Whitley Road S297830;
ii) Call the Duty Officer at 1800-376-0000;
iii) Lodge an e-Complaint;
iv) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or
v) Fax us at 6270 0320.
22. The CPIB is also keenly aware that corruption is increasingly transnational in nature. As part of its international cooperation and engagement efforts, the CPIB regularly participates in international platforms which enhance collaboration in tackling the global scourge of corruption. The CPIB also hosts foreign delegates from different parts of the world who are interested to learn about Singapore’s experience in combating corruption.
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau
Cases of Interest
Case 1: Bribes for Favour in Building Maintenance Business
1. Ling Chun Teck Donald (“Ling”) was a Director of TAC Contracts Pte Ltd (“TAC”), a company specialising in providing waterproofing services, as well as minor construction works, general repairs and building maintenance. Ling was responsible for managing the sales and operations teams at TAC. Investigations revealed that from around 2011 to 2014, Ling had given gratifications to TAC’s clients which included managing agents, facilities managers and contractors in return for advancing the business interests of TAC. Corrupt payments were given either personally by Ling or his sales staff under the guise of referral fees and commissions. On 29 June 2016, Ling was charged in court for 121 counts of corruptly giving gratification amounting to at least $145,353 to 31 employees from various companies in return for advancing the business interest of TAC. He was also charged for 416 counts of corruptly giving gratification of at least $316,281.10 together with his sales staff, to 76 employees from various clients of TAC to advance the business interests of TAC. On 22 December 2016, Ling was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. In 2016, Lee Zhijian, a former sales and operations executive, was also charged and was sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment for giving bribes totalling $4,507 to further TAC’s business interests.
2. In 2017, 11 other TAC sales staff involved in the corrupt scheme were charged in court as follows:
a. James Tan Gin Meng, Senior Sales and Operations Executive, for giving $42,818 in bribes. He was sentenced to 46 weeks’ imprisonment.
b. Ng Kok Thai, Sales Manager, for giving $59,074.50 in bribes. He was sentenced to 46 weeks’ imprisonment.
c. Alagappan Suriyanarayanan, Sales and Operations Executive, for giving $36,839.50 in bribes. He was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment.
d. Justin Heng Lye Chai, Sales Executive, for giving $31,076 in bribes. He was sentenced to 19 weeks’ imprisonment.
e. Sim Kah Wah, Sales and Operations Executive, for giving $6,790 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $9,000.
f. Chang Poh Lung Donald, Former Sales Coordinator, for giving $5,562.60 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $16,000.
g. Ler Tze Pin Thomas, Sales and Operations Executive, for giving $2,453 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $4,000.
h. Wong Wentong Aaron, Sales and Operations Executive, for giving $3,885 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $7,000.
i. Ng Weng Boon, Former Sales Executive, for giving $490 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $2,000.
j. Chan Hon Kai, Former Sales Executive, for giving $1,750 in bribes. He was fined a sum of $4,400.
k. Giam Kia Kit, Former Sales Executive, for giving $165,525 in bribes. His case is still before the court.
Case 2: Kickbacks to advance business interests of Freight Forwarding and Transport Services
1. Too Yuen Lim (“Too”) was a Business Development Manager of Trans-International Shipping & Forwarding (S) Pte Ltd (“Trans-International”), a freight-forwarding company in the business of logistical planning and charters for the worldwide delivery of goods. Too’s main responsibilities as a business development manager were to promote, develop and source for business for his company. Investigations revealed that in the course of his work, Too had come up with a “profit-sharing” arrangement with Trans-International’s clients, which in reality was a scheme involving corrupt kickbacks. Too conspired with his managing director, Leong Tek Fock @ Leong Kum Wing, to disguise the corrupt gratification given to employees of four companies: Mid-Continent Tubular Pte Ltd, Swire Shipping Agencies Pte Ltd, Marubeni-Itochu Tubulars Asia Pte Ltd and TPCO Pan Asia Pte Ltd, in return for advancing the business interests of Trans-International. On 30 May 2017, Too was charged in court for corruptly giving gratification totalling $55,194 to various clients of Trans-International as well as for misappropriation offences. On 5 December 2017, he was fined a sum of $56,000.
2. In connection with this case, the following five persons were also charged in court:
a. Leong Tek Fock @ Leong Kum Wing, Managing Director, Trans-International Shipping & Forwarding (S) Pte Ltd, for conspiring to give gratification totalling $55,194 to various clients of Trans-International in return for advancing the business interests of Trans-International. He was fined a sum of $56,000
b. Yong Hock Guan Dennis, the Senior Sales Manager at Mid-Continent Tubular Pte Ltd (MCT), for accepting gratification totalling $21,460.91 as reward for Trans-International to be engaged for conducting freight forwarding services to MCT. He was also charged under the Penal Code for cheating and criminal breach of trust offences. Yong was eventually sentenced to 52 months’ imprisonment and made to pay a penalty* of $183,279.16 (which added 6 months to the original jail term as payment was defaulted) for his series of corruption and penal code offences.
c. Kng Beng @ Jason, a Sales Manager with Swire Shipping Agencies Pte Ltd (“Swire), for accepting gratification of between $8,000 and $9,000 as a reward to lower Swire’s quotation price for a cargo shipment for Trans-International Shipping. He was fined a sum of $18,000 and made to pay a penalty of $8,500.
d. Zhang Jin Xiang @ Garett, a Sales Executive of Marubeni-Itochu Tubulars Asia Pte Ltd, for accepting gratification of $800 as an inducement to advance the business interests of Trans-International. He was fined a sum of $5,000 and made to pay a penalty of $800.
e. Matthew Ramakrishna, sales manager of TPCO Pan Asia Pte Ltd (TPCOPA), for accepting gratification of $6,994.22 as an inducement to advance the business interests of Trans-International. He was fined a sum of $15,000 and made to pay a penalty of $6,994.22.
*Penalty is an additional punishment (for corruption offences) imposed on the bribe taker to pay a sum which is equal to the amount of that gratification.
 The CEC, comprising members of the CPIB Directorate, deliberates on each complaint and decides whether the complaints contain sufficient information for investigation or other follow-up actions.
 Clearance rate refers to the number of cases where investigations have been completed, out of the total number of cases investigated by the CPIB in a year.
 The conviction rate excludes withdrawals.