Corruption Situation In Singapore
The corruption situation in Singapore remains firmly under control. CPIB received 239 corruption-related reports in 2020, the lowest number of corruption-related reports in 5 years. Private sector cases continue to form the majority (86%) of all cases registered for investigation in 2020.
2. Public perception of the effectiveness of corruption control efforts in Singapore has improved from 92% in 2018 to 94% in 2020. In addition, 80% of the respondents to the public perception survey trust CPIB as an effective anti-corruption agency. Internationally, Singapore’s anti-corruption efforts continue to be well-regarded, with Transparency International (TI) ranking Singapore 3rd out of 180 countries in the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI); Singapore maintained a high score of 85 out of 100.
Fewer Corruption-Related Reports and Cases Registered for Investigation Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
3. The COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a sharp fall in economic activities in the private sector, could have led to a significant dip in the number of corruption-related reports received by CPIB (239 in 2020 compared to 350 in 2019). Of the 239 corruption-related reports received, CPIB registered 81 reports as new cases for investigation in 2020. This was a 32% drop compared to the 119 new cases registered in 2019. Nevertheless, the percentage of corruption-related reports registered for investigation in 2020 was 34%, higher than the annual average of 30% over the preceding four years (Figure 1). A report is registered for investigation if the information received is pursuable. This is determined by the quality of relevant information provided. Investigative enquiries and intelligence probes had also led to more pursuable leads identified for investigation.
4. The CPIB takes a serious view of all reports and information that may disclose an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act. They are thoroughly reviewed and investigated regardless of the nature or amount of gratification, and whether the complainant or informant is named or anonymous.
Private Sector Cases Continued to Form the Majority of Corruption Cases
5. In 2020, the majority of all cases registered for investigations (86%) (Figure 2) were from the private sector with 9% of these involving public sector employees rejecting bribes offered by private sector individuals.Public sector cases accounted for 14% of all cases registered for investigation in 2020. The number of public sector cases registered remained low (11) and was comparable to the annual average (13) of the preceding four years.
Higher Clearance Rate
6. Despite disruptions to its workplace arrangements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CPIB achieved a high clearance rate, completing investigations into 87% of subjects investigated in 2020 (Figure 3). This is higher than the annual average of 82% over the preceding four years.
Majority of Individuals Prosecuted in Court were from the Private Sector
7. In 2020, 129 individuals were prosecuted in Court for offences investigated by CPIB, of which 98% (126) were private sector individuals while the remaining 2% (3) were public sector employees (Figure 4).
High Conviction Rate for CPIB Cases
8. The conviction rate for CPIB cases in 2020 stood at 97%, excluding withdrawals (Figure 5). The consistently high conviction rate for CPIB cases is testament to the strong commitment of CPIB and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in bringing corrupt offenders to task
Good International Ranking and Positive Domestic Perception on Corruption Control Efforts and CPIB
9. Singapore continues to be well-regarded internationally for our anti-corruption efforts. The latest TI-CPI continues to rank Singapore amongst the top five least corrupt countries in the world. In 2020, Singapore was ranked 3rd out of 180 countries and maintained our high score of 85 out of 100. In its 2021 Report on Perceptions of Corruption in Asia, the US and Australia, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy rated Singapore as the least corrupt country, a position we have held since 1995. In addition, in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020, Singapore was ranked 3rd for absence of corruption in public office, the top Asian nation out of 128 countries ranked.
10. Domestically, public perception of our national corruption control efforts and CPIB’s work in fighting corruption has also improved, according to a biennial Public Perception Survey (PPS) commissioned by the Bureau. In the 2020 survey, 94% of respondents felt that the corruption control efforts in Singapore were effective. This was a 2% increase from 92% in 2018. Political determination to keep corruption under control, heavy punishment for corruption offences and effective anti-corruption laws were cited as the top three success factors that contributed to the low corruption rate in Singapore. It was noteworthy that the level of public trust in CPIB and its work has improved, with 80% of respondents (up from 74% in 2018) trusting CPIB as an effective agency in the fight against corruption (Figure 6).
Fighting Corruption Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
11. Amidst the disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, CPIB remained operationally ready and continued with its relentless efforts to follow up on every corruption complaint.
12. The following cases illustrate CPIB’s efforts in investigating time-sensitive corruption cases which arose during the Circuit Breaker period.
Case 1 – Taking Swift Action against Attempted Bribery to Avoid COVID-19 Enforcement Action
On 7 May 2020, the Bureau received information that Chen Long, a national from the People’s Republic of China on Work Permit Pass in Singapore, had attempted to bribe a police officer attached to the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom officer), after he was detained for committing an offence under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020.
Investigation revealed that on 7 May 2020, a team of four TransCom officers on patrol duty at Boon Lay MRT Station had spotted Chen Long loitering with his face mask pulled down. Despite an initial warning, Chen Long was again spotted with his face mask pulled down such that it did not cover his nose and mouth. During questioning, Chen Long offered a S$50 bribe to one of the four TransCom officers, who rejected the offer and reported it to the CPIB. Chen Long was arrested and charged the same day.
Chen Long admitted to his bribery attempt and was convicted and sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment. He was also issued a notice of composition of S$300 for breaching Regulation 3A(1)(a) under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 for not wearing a face mask properly in public. While this was a straightforward case involving attempted bribery to get out of trouble, it was important to take swift action against the perpetrator to enforce a zero-tolerance stance against corruption offences however small the bribe quantum may be. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as bribes to escape enforcement actions against non-compliance with health regulations may compromise public health.
Case 2 – Investigation against an NParks Manager for Alleged Corruption, Cheating and Taking Upskirt Photographs of Women
On 13 April 2021, Lee Choon Phing, a Manager of the Community in Bloom Branch of National Parks Board (NParks) was charged in Court for allegedly committing offences relating to corruption, cheating and insulting the modesty of women. It was alleged that Lee had in February 2020, attempted to obtain S$10,000 from one Tan Beng Khoon, the sole proprietor of SBM Easi Trade (SBM), as a reward for misrepresenting to NParks that SBM had fulfilled an order to deliver 10,000 hats by a stipulated deadline when in reality, the delivery was late and had a shortfall of 5,000 hats. Lee’s misrepresentation had resulted in SBM avoiding any late delivery fee and eventually led NParks to pay the full contract amount to SBM. In connection with his alleged corruption offence, Lee had cheated an Accounts Executive from NPark’s Finance Branch by deceiving him into believing that SBM had delivered the full order to NParks by the stipulated deadline, thereby inducing the latter to deliver the full contractual payment of S$23,300 to SBM. Separately, Lee was also found to have intruded upon the privacy of various women with the intention to insult their modesty by using his mobile phone to capture upskirt photographs of them. His case is currently before the Courts.
CPIB had to act expeditiously to investigate this case during the Circuit Breaker period to avoid the risk of critical evidence being destroyed. CPIB’s thoroughness in its investigations also led to the discovery of Lee’s other alleged non-corruption offences.
Strengthened Capabilities, Better Investigation Outcomes
13 CPIB’s efforts to strengthen its intelligence capabilities and investigative support tools and its continued emphasis on officers’ interview and interrogation tradecraft and forensic accounting competency have enabled the Bureau to better detect and investigate corruption and other offences. The following cases illustrate Singapore’s zero tolerance approach towards corruption.
Case 3 – Alleged Corruption involving a Senior Public Officer and Prominent Construction Companies
On 24 July 2020, Foo Yung Thye Henry, a former Deputy Group Director of the Land Transport Authority (LTA), was charged with corruption involving S$1.24 million in loans. It was alleged that Foo had, between 2014 and 2019, corruptly obtained gratification in the form of loans from contractors/sub-contractors of the LTA to advance the contractors/sub-contractors’ business interests with the LTA. He was also alleged to have corruptly attempted to obtain gratification in the form of a loan of around S$30,000 from a sub-contractor of the LTA and cheating various of his colleagues at the LTA into extending loans totalling approximately S$726,500 to him, by dishonestly concealing from them that the loans were intended to service his gambling habit and debts.
Six individuals and a company connected to the case were also charged for corruption. They are:
a) Cai Jungang, Director of Tritech Engineering & Testing (Singapore) Pte Ltd;
b) Zhang Xihu, Director of MEPT Engineering Pte Ltd;
c) Pay Teow Heng and Pek Lian Guan, respectively the Director and Managing Director of Tiong Seng Contractors (Private) Limited;
d) Ro Sungyoung and Kim Young-Gyu, respectively the Project Manager and Project Director of Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co Ltd; and
e) China Railway Tunnel Group Co., Ltd. (Singapore Branch) (CRTG).
Another individual, Chen Xuguang, Director of Tong Sheng Construction & Trading Pte Ltd, a subcontractor of CRTG, was also charged with abetting the falsification of Tong Sheng invoices. Their cases are currently before the Courts.
Case 4 – Ensuring a Level Playing Field for Businesses
On 23 March 2021, Christopher Tan Toh Nghee, the Associate Director of Singapore Management University (SMU), and three others were charged in Court for alleged corruption involving a total sum of about S$472,000. Between August 2017 and November 2019, Tan had allegedly accepted gratifications totalling about S$472,000 from Kenneth Lum Hsien Loong, Director of International Alliance Marketing Pte Ltd, Cher Kheng Than, Director of CJ Synergy Pte Ltd and Jeffery Long Chee Kin, Managing Director of Assetualize Pte Ltd as inducements to advance the business interests of their companies with SMU.
In relation to this case, Tan and Cher also each face one charge of giving false information to CPIB and for intentionally obstructing the course of justice. Their cases are currently before the Courts.
Case 5 – CPIB’s Tough Stance against Public Officers who Abuse their Position of Authority to Cause Undue Harm to the Public and Tarnish the Image of the Public Service
On 23 September 2020, Mahendran S/O Selvarajoo, a Staff Sergeant of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Computer Misuse Act.
Investigations by CPIB revealed that sometime in early 2019, Mahendran had sought and received sexual gratification from two female subjects of investigations in return for helping one of them avoid criminal prosecution and helping the other to reply favourably to her employer’s purported queries about her case. It was also further revealed that Mahendran had accessed digital devices belonging to the two female subjects and copied out personal videos and folders from their devices to his personal storage devices without authority. In addition, he accessed a third female subject’s mobile phone and copied out three of her personal videos without authority.
CPIB acted expeditiously and arrested Mahendran on the same day it received information about the offence. Initially, Mahendran denied any corrupt intent on his part but the extensive and thorough investigations by CPIB officers uncovered evidence which eventually led Mahendran to admit his offences and co-operate with the CPIB officers. The use of digital forensics and credibility assessment tools helped uncover the extent of Mahendran’s offences and his corrupt intent. CPIB’s swift and scrupulous investigations have brought Mahendran to justice and prevented other subjects from falling prey to his sexual motives. Media coverage of CPIB’s press release relating to Mahendran’s prosecution also helped raise public awareness, and in turn led to CPIB receiving information relating to offences of a similar nature involving other individuals.
Case 6 – Cross Border Investigations: Clamping Down on Corrupt Offences Committed by Singaporeans Overseas
On 11 January 2021, siblings Teo Chu Ha Henry and Teo Suya Bik Judy were sentenced to 50 months’ and 41 months’ imprisonment respectively for corruption and money laundering offences. In addition, Judy was also ordered to pay a penalty of S$2,320,864.10.
Investigations had revealed that Henry, a Senior Director of Logistics in Seagate, had conspired to share confidential information on Seagate’s open tenders for long-haul trucking services in the People’s Republic of China with Judy, who was not a Seagate employee. Judy then passed the information directly to two Chinese trucking companies, an entity said to be called Feili International Transport Co. Ltd (Feili) and Shanghai Long-Distance Transportation Co. (SLT) in order to help them secure contracts with Seagate. In return, both Feili and SLT would pay Judy a sum amounting to 10% on all invoices billed to Seagate under the contracts. Feili and SLT eventually secured contracts with Seagate in 2006 and 2009, and between 2007 and 2010, Judy corruptly received a total of around CNY11.3 million in gratifications from Feili and SLT.
Judy then conspired with Henry to withdraw part of the corrupt gratifications she received to purchase a condominium unit in Singapore. Between 2009 and 2010, Henry used Judy’s ATM card to make numerous cash withdrawals of these corrupt gratifications in Singapore, which were then deposited into Henry’s personal bank accounts. Subsequently in 2012, Henry purchased a condominium unit in Judy’s name. Henry’s act of depositing the monies he withdrew from Judy’s bank account into his personal accounts, facilitated the control of Judy’s benefits of criminal conduct and constituted money laundering offences.
Although the offences were committed overseas, the CPIB was able to solve the case through working closely with the Shanghai City Zhabei District People’s Procuratorate, from whom it received invaluable assistance in the form of critical evidentiary records such as bank statements, as well as in interviews and statement-taking under the mutual legal assistance framework spanning over a few years.
Singapore Together in the Fight Against Corruption
14. Singapore’s corruption control would not be as effective without strong public support and involvement. CPIB is grateful to the community and other stakeholders for their efforts in fighting corruption alongside with CPIB. In the past year, members of the public have continued to place their trust in CPIB and stepped forward to make corruption reports. The media also plays a critical role in covering reports on corruption cases as this helps to keep the public informed whilst providing a reminder to individuals and organisations on the need for constant vigilance to guard against corrupt practices. Various community stakeholders have worked with CPIB to co-create corruption prevention initiatives and materials.
Partnership with Students and Media – e-Book on Corruption Cases
15. Over the past year, CPIB has worked closely with specific groups such as students, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), the public and private sectors, among others, on anti-corruption initiatives and to grow greater ownership and appreciation of Singapore’s zero tolerance approach towards corruption. One anti-corruption resource which has emerged from such collaboration is The Corruption Casebook – Stories from under the Table, an e-Book launched in 2020 as a resource for teenagers to learn about the serious consequences of corruption. Co-written with a media editor and incorporating suggestions from St. Joseph’s Institution students, the e-Book features actual corruption cases investigated by CPIB. The e-Book has been published on CPIB’s website and other social media channels.
Collaboration with IHL – Anti-Corruption Education via Web Game Application
16. CPIB has also collaborated with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) to explore the gamification of anti-corruption content for a wider audience. CPIB worked with students from NYP’s School of Design & Media to develop a Web Game Application prototype featuring game design and game elements to make CPIB anti-corruption materials more interesting. Leveraging a gaming environment will enhance learner engagement and create better awareness of the pitfalls of corruption. NYP students involved in the initiative have also gained a better understanding of corruption and its consequences. This application will be also used in CPIB’s Anti-Corruption Badge Programme for uniformed groups.
Working with the Private Sector – Extended Anti-Corruption Partnership Network
17. For the private sector, CPIB has the Anti-Corruption Partnership Network (ACPN), which was established in 2018 to promote ownership over the prevention of corruption. In the past year, ACPN membership was extended to include selected associations and professional bodies with a total of 54 organisations as members. The most recent ACPN event was co-organised with the Ethics and Compliance Networking Group (ECNG) in December 2020 and held virtually via Zoom.
18. COVID-19 may have brought about unprecedented challenges. But what remains unchanged is our fortitude as a nation to combat corruption. CPIB has taken bold steps to transform itself and strengthen its operational readiness to meet emerging challenges in a post-COVID-19 future. Through greater collaboration with various stakeholders and strategic partners, we strive to be a leading anti-corruption agency worthy of Singapore and all Singaporeans.
19. As reiterated by Director CPIB, Denis Tang:
“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore continues to maintain its low corruption level and good international standing as one of the least corrupt nations in the world. This requires our constant vigilance and resolute determination to keep corruption at bay. CPIB is committed to forging closer partnerships with the community and expanding our operational capabilities to ensure that Singapore remains clean and corruption-free.”
 Public sector employees who rejected bribes in 2020 comprised officers from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Public Utilities Board (PUB).
 Clearance rate refers to the total number of subjects on whom CPIB has completed investigations, out of the total number of subjects investigated by CPIB in the year.
 AGC has filed a Notice of Appeal for each of the two cases of acquittal in 2020.
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau