Corruption Situation In Singapore Remains Firmly Under Control
Corruption Situation In Singapore Remains Firmly Under Control
PRESS RELEASE BY CPIB Corruption Situation In Singapore Remains Firmly Under Control
The corruption situation in Singapore remains firmly under control. CPIB received 350 corruption-related reports in 2019, a slight dip compared to the 358 reports received in 2018. Public sector cases continue to form the minority (10%) of all the cases registered for investigation in 2019. Singapore is well-regarded by the international community for our anti-corruption efforts, with the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2019 ranking Singapore 4th out of 180 countries and territories, with a high score of 85. In the latest Political & Economic Risk Consultancy 2020 Corruption Survey, Singapore maintained top position and improved its score to 1.73 as compared to a score of 1.85 the previous year (zero being the best score).
Fewer Corruption-related Reports; More Cases Registered for Investigation
2 In 2019, CPIB received 350 corruption-related reports compared to the 358 in 2018. Of the 350, CPIB registered 119 as new cases for investigation, an 11% increase compared to the 107 new cases registered in 2018. A report is registered for investigation if the information received is pursuable. This is determined by the quality of relevant information provided. In 2019 there were fewer corruption-related reports but more cases registered for investigation due to better quality information received. The number of corruption-related reports received by CPIB over the past five years, as well as the corresponding number of new cases registered for investigation, are shown below (Figure 1).
3 In 2019, the percentage of corruption-related reports registered for investigation increased to 34%, compared to the annual average of 28% over the preceding four years. For non-corruption related reports received by the CPIB, they would be referred to the relevant government agencies for action, where applicable.
4 The higher percentage of corruption-related reports registered for investigation can be attributed to improvement in the quality of information received, coupled with efforts to enhance investigative enquiries and intelligence probes. Furthermore, CPIB has significantly enhanced prevention and outreach efforts in 2019. This included increased publicity of CPIB cases to raise public awareness and encourage the public to report cases of corruption. Besides reinforcing deterrent messages on the pitfalls of corruption and the stiff penalties faced by corrupt offenders, CPIB’s press releases often incorporated information that members of the public should include when making a corruption-related report. These, coupled with ongoing efforts to strengthen investigative enquiries and intelligence probes, have led to more pursuable leads identified for investigation.
5 The CPIB takes a serious view of all reports and information that may disclose any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act. They are thoroughly reviewed regardless of the nature or amount of gratification, or whether the complainant is named or anonymous.
Private Sector Cases Continued to form the Majority of Corruption Cases
6 In 2019, private sector cases continued to form the majority (90%) of all the cases registered for investigation by CPIB. The number of private sector cases registered in 2019 was 107, slightly higher than the annual average of the preceding four years. Of these private sector cases, 10% (11 cases) involved public sector employees rejecting bribes offered by private sector individuals1. Public sector cases accounted for 10% of all cases registered for investigation in 2019 (Figure 2). The number of public sector cases registered in 2019 remained low (12) and was similar to the annual average of the preceding four years.
Majority of Individuals Prosecuted in Court were from the Private Sector
7 In 2019, a total of 147 individuals were prosecuted in Court for offences investigated by CPIB. Of these, 142 or around 97% were private sector individuals (Figure 3), with a significant proportion (around 30%) in construction and building maintenance work. Public sector employees made up around 3% of the total number of individuals prosecuted in Court in 2019. This was comparable to the previous two years. Custodial sentences were meted out to these individuals convicted of corruption offences.
Higher Clearance Rate
8 Despite an increased workload, CPIB achieved a higher annual clearance rate2, completing investigations into 85% of the number of subjects investigated in 2019 (Figure 4). This was a 5% improvement from the 2018 clearance rate.
High Conviction Rate for CPIB Cases
9 CPIB’s and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC)’s strong commitment to bring corrupt offenders to task has contributed to a consistently high conviction rate. Excluding withdrawals, the conviction rate over the past five years has remained above 97% (Figure 5).
10 CPIB continues to fight corruption with resolve by strengthening its capabilities in areas such as intelligence and surveillance, investigative support tools like forensic accounting, digital forensics, as well as interview and investigation tradecraft. These are all important levers which collectively advance the Bureau’s work in detecting, investigating and preventing corruption offences. The following cases illustrate the effectiveness of Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach towards corruption.
Case 1 – Tenacity and Competence in Investigation and Interview Skills - Disproving a Malicious Complaint on a Checkpoint Officer
CPIB received a report that Harry Ristanto, a tour guide, was asked by a Senior Station Inspector at Tuas Checkpoint to give a bribe to the Inspector. Through competent investigation and effective interviews as well as the tenacity of its officers, CPIB was able to establish that the complaint contained false information and was malicious in nature.
Investigations revealed that Ristanto was interviewed by the Inspector when he had led a group of Indonesian tourists together with a Malaysian tour guide via Tuas Checkpoint. However, CPIB found that there were discrepancies in the account of events stated in the report. For instance, while Ristanto had claimed that he was alone with the Inspector in the interview room when the alleged bribe incident took place, CCTV footage revealed that Ristanto was accompanied by the Malaysian tour guide. Moreover, there was no exchange of cash involved when Ristanto was in the interview room. When interviewed by CPIB officers, Ristanto admitted that he had lied to the Malaysian tour guide that the Inspector had asked him for a bribe and that he had paid the alleged bribe. Ristanto also admitted to signing a letter falsely alleging that the officer had asked for a $2,000 bribe and that he had handed $1,500 to him. The signed letter was sent to ICA website’s feedback channel.
On 27 June 2019, Ristanto was convicted and sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment for knowingly giving false information relating to a corruption offence.
Case 2 – CPIB’s Determination and Resoluteness – Eradicating Fraud and Cheating in Government Grants
On 18 November 2019, Louise Lai, a former Director of market research company I-Know How Pte Ltd (IKH) was sentenced to 17 months’ imprisonment for cheating offences under the Penal Code. Lai was earlier charged with abetment by conspiring with Cheng Choong Hung, to cheat Nanyang Technological University (“NTU”), TechBiz Xccelerator Pte Ltd (“TBX”), and NTUitive Pte Ltd (“NTUitive”, a wholly owned subsidiary of NTU) into making payments to IKH. She did this by submitting invoices from IKH to NTU, TBX and NTUitive Pte Ltd for works not actually done by IKH. This included invoices submitted to TBX to facilitate claims for grant money of $50,000 under Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)’s i.JAM (Interactive Digital Media Jumpstart and Mentor) programme. Cheng, the Director of NTUitive, Institute of Media Innovation and CEO of TBX at the time of the offences, was also charged with offences under the Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act and Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, Chapter 65A. His case is before the Courts.
Case 3 – CPIB’s Determination and Resoluteness - Preventing the Serious Consequences of Corruption in the Construction Sector
On 17 October 2019, Jeffrey Chin Jen Len, was sentenced to 30 weeks’ imprisonment and a penalty of $89,920 for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. At the material time, Chin was the Site Supervisor of Koon Construction & Transport Co. Pte Ltd posted to a worksite at Sengkang West, and had authority to allow vehicles to enter the worksite to unload hardcore waste (crushed concrete which can be used to path temporary roads within worksites). Chin was charged with corruptly accepting gratification from various drivers, totalling around S$89,920, as an inducement or reward to allow vehicles to dump waste at the Sengkang West worksite. This included gratification from one Low Swee Leong, a former driver of Nature Landscapes Pte Ltd, and Low Kong Yew, a lorry driver of Seaview Transport Management Pte Ltd. Low Swee Leong and Low Kong Yew were also charged with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and their cases are before the Courts. Corruption can lead to serious consequences. For example, corrupt arrangements which facilitate unregulated dumping of waste at a construction worksite compromise safety and can lead to serious accidents.
Case 4 – Zero-Tolerance Culture – Certis Cisco Enforcement Officer Rejecting a Bribe
On 27 November 2019, a 28-year-old foreigner, Li Ying, was sentenced to a fine of $50,620 for converting a private residential property into dormitory accommodation without planning permission, a fine of $6,000 for being a self-employed foreigner without a valid work pass (to engage in subletting activities), and four weeks in jail for attempting to bribe an enforcement officer. The Court convicted Li for offences under the Planning Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Investigations revealed that on 24 February 2018, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), acting on information received, engaged auxiliary police officers to carry out an inspection at a two-storey terrace house located along Jalan Kemajuan. The officers found 15 foreign workers living in the house, which exceeded the occupancy cap of six unrelated persons for private residential properties. During the inspection, Li attempted to offer $100 to Wee Peng Soon, a Senior Enforcement Supervisor with Certis Cisco Security Pte Ltd, as an inducement for Wee not to report the number of occupants to URA. This is an offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Wee rejected the bribe and the case was referred to the CPIB.
Singapore Together: Working with Citizens for Citizens in the Fight Against Corruption
11 CPIB is strongly committed to detecting, investigating and preventing corruption. Effective corruption control however, requires strong public support and commitment from various community stakeholders as well. Thus, CPIB has stepped up our prevention and outreach efforts in a more targeted manner. In line with our national Singapore Together movement, CPIB has developed and co-created anti-corruption initiatives with citizens for citizens. This includes working with various groups such as students, the private sector, the media and members of public on anti-corruption initiatives to encourage greater appreciation of Singapore’s zero tolerance approach towards corruption.
Working with Students - Anti-Corruption Badge Programme for Uniformed Groups in Schools
12 The Anti-Corruption Badge Programme for uniformed groups encourages cadets to earn an Anti-Corruption Badge through activities that will enable them to learn more about corruption, the work of CPIB, and the importance of values such as honesty, fairness and integrity. In 2019, CPIB conducted a series of pilot sessions for this programme with the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC), reaching out to more than 400 secondary school cadets from 36 secondary schools. Based on feedback received, almost all the cadets acquired a better understanding of corruption after the programme and found the activities interesting and engaging. The Home Team Corps (HTC) Council is supportive and has given the endorsement for NPCC cadets who have completed the programme to wear the Anti-Corruption Badge on their NPCC uniform. The Bureau will reach out to other uniformed groups and interest them to adopt the programme.
Working with Private Sector - Anti-Corruption Partnership Network
13 Private sector corruption cases continue to form the majority of cases investigated by CPIB. The Bureau has worked towards in-depth engagement with private sector entities as we seek more helping hands in our fight against corruption
14 The Anti-Corruption Partnership Network (ACPN) was established in 2018 with the objective of promoting ownership and collaboration on the prevention of corruption within the private sector. 37 companies and their subsidiaries have joined as members, including Multi-National Companies, Financial Institutions and Government-Linked Companies. Following the ACPN’s inaugural event in September 2018, a second event was co-organised with Surbana Jurong in December 2019. Well attended by representatives from member companies, the event saw Surbana Jurong sharing their experience in attaining certification for SS ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management Systems and discussions on how opportunities for corruption could arise and be prevented.
Working with Media - Increased Publicity on Corruption Cases Encourages Reporting
15 CPIB has increased our engagement with local media through press releases and feature stories to reinforce messages such as the values of integrity and incorruptibility, as well as pertinent information to include when making a corruption report. In this regard, CPIB is appreciative of the media’s support in raising public awareness on corruption cases and related issues. The crucial role played by the media in the fight against corruption is illustrated by the case against Mahendran S/O Selvarajoo, a staff sergeant of the Singapore Police Force. He was charged on 29 November 2019 with corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from two female subjects of Police investigations, as well as for offences under the Computer Misuse Act. Media coverage of CPIB’s press release relating to Mahendran’s prosecution helped raise public awareness, and in turn led to CPIB receiving information relating to offences of a similar nature involving other individuals.
Working with Members of Public – the Making of the e-Bail system
16 Besides reporting corruption, members of the public can assist CPIB in its mission by providing constructive feedback on its services. One initiative which arose from public feedback is CPIB’s new e-Bail system. Persons under investigation by the Bureau are placed on bail, which will have to be extended when it expires. The traditional practice is that the bailee and his/her surety will have to physically report to CPIB to apply for the extension. Taking into account travelling and waiting time, a physical bail extension usually takes up 60 minutes on the part of the surety. After taking on board feedback from bailees and sureties, CPIB has digitalised its bail extension process for eligible bailees/sureties to be able to apply for the extension of bail online via the e-Bail system. With e-Bail, the surety only needs to spend 10 minutes to complete an online application and saves them the hassle of making the physical trip to CPIB.
17 The corruption situation in Singapore remains firmly under control. Singapore continues to be well-regarded internationally for being one of the least corrupt countries in the world. These results would not have been possible without effective enforcement efforts coupled with the strong support of the public through actions such as reporting corruption, rejecting bribes and the co-creation of anti-corruption initiatives with CPIB. CPIB will continue to strengthen its investigative capabilities and step up prevention and outreach efforts in a targeted manner. Members of the public play an important role by being vigilant and reporting corruption to CPIB. We must stand united against corruption and uphold Singapore’s core values of integrity and incorruptibility. As reiterated by Director CPIB, Denis Tang:
“Singapore has achieved good results in the fight against corruption, but we cannot afford to let our guard down. Corruption must not be allowed to creep into our way of life and undermine Singapore’s reputation for being an incorrupt and fair society. CPIB remains resolute and committed in combating corruption and will continue to strengthen its operational capabilities to better detect and investigate corruption offences. We are encouraged by strong public support in rejecting bribes and reporting corruption offences. We urge everyone to continue to be united and vigilant against corruption. Together, we work towards keeping Singapore corruption-free.”
1Public sector employees who rejected bribes in 2019 comprised officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Singapore Customs (SC) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). 2Clearance rate refers to the total number of subjects whom CPIB has completed investigations on, out of the total number of subjects investigated by CPIB in the year.