Former Singapore resort director charged with corruption

The inside of a darkly lite casino, with an ominous statue in the foreground

An ex-director of one of Singapore’s major integrated resorts faces up to five years’ jail and/or a fine of SGD$100,000 for seven charges of corruption.

Soh Yew Meng was allegedly paid at least SGD$317,000 in bribes in the course of his position as director of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). The bribes were said to have been paid as consideration for “furthering [certain contractors’] business interests” in RWS projects, including restaurants and cafes located in the resort.

The bulk of the bribes comes from two SGD$150,000 payments made by the managing director of a furniture and construction company to Soh between 2013 and 2014 to “further the business interests” of the company. Other contractors accused of making corrupt payments to Soh include a lighting designer, a building company and a security systems business.

The charges against Soh also include three accounts of attempting to obtain corrupt benefits of an unspecified amount from a contractor and an individual.

Tan Siow Hui, a freelance quantity surveyor working with Soh, has been prosecuted for conspiring with him to receive and attempt to obtain bribes from contractors.

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) has identified a number of locations where the bribes were paid, including car parks and a local canteen. It emphasises that it will not hesitate to act against parties involved in corrupt practices: “Procurement systems and processes are put in place to ensure fair competition from all bidding vendors. But when individuals circumvent these processes and seek benefit for themselves, a level playing field becomes impossible to achieve.”

Last year, Singapore fell two places in the Corruption Perceptions Index ranking of least corrupt countries in the world. It currently sits at 7th place.

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Sources: The Straits Times, Today Online, Channel NewsAsia

Australia, Singapore and New Zealand fall in Corruption Perceptions Index

bribery and corruption

Australia, Singapore and New Zealand have fallen respectively from 9th, 5th and equal 1st, to 11th, 7th and 2nd in the Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

Transparency International, a global anti-corruption organisation, started out in 1993 and currently has a presence in over 100 countries. The organisation has contributed to the development of international anti-corruption conventions and the prosecution of shady leaders and the seizure of their corruptly-obtained property.

In 2014, Australia scored 80, down from 81 in 2013 and 94 in 2012. Singapore fell to 84, from 86 in 2013 and 87 in 2014. New Zealand remained steady on 91, but was overtaken by Denmark, which scored 92 this year.

“A poor score is likely a sign of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs,” the organisation says.

Perceptions of corruption can also harm countries’ economic growth and standing in the global community.

Several governments have adopted powerful legislation to combat bribery and corruption, equipping regulators and courts to hand out severe penalties for business misconduct.

Regulators in a variety of jurisdictions have regularly demonstrated that even small bribes can have serious consequences.

In the US, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, arms manufacturer Smith & Wesson Holding Corp was hit by a $2 million fine by the Securities and Exchange Commission over a bribe of $11,000 for a contract valued at $107,852.
In the UK, a Magistrates’ Court clerk was sentenced to six years imprisonment for accepting a £500 bribe to conceal a traffic summons – but has since had his sentence reduced to four years.

The reach of anti-corruption legislation often extends across state jurisdictions.

In 2013, Chinese official Li Huabo was found guilty of receiving stolen Chinese government money in his Singaporean bank account.

Under Singaporean anti-money laundering laws, Li was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment following an investigation by the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office. The Chinese official had received less than 10 per cent of his ill-gotten funds in his Singaporean bank account.

Though difficult to quantify, the World Bank estimates that at least $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year.

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