All-time low of corruption cases in 2017, but more private sector individuals prosecuted in Singapore

File picture of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore. ― TODAY pic
File picture of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in Singapore. ― TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, April 11 ― The number of corruption cases registered for investigation fell to a record low of 103 in 2017, according to annual statistics published by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) today.

This was down from 118 in 2016, and 132 in 2015.

Private sector cases continued to form the majority of corruption cases at 92 per cent, with most seen in the construction industry, wholesale and retail businesses, as well as warehouse, transport and logistic services over the last four years.

Of the private sector cases last year, 82 per cent involved individuals giving, offering and receiving bribes.

Though the overall number of cases fell, the number of individuals from the private sector who were prosecuted increased by 32 per cent to 132, as compared to 100 in 2016.

However, CPIB said this increase was mainly due to cases involving multiple accused persons who were charged in court last year, and not because of an increase in the number of cases.

The proportion of corruption cases in the public sector remained low, accounting for 8 per cent of all cases registered for investigation in 2017, as compared to 15 per cent in 2016

The CPIB also highlighted the high-profile overseas scandal involving Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M), which saw the corporation investigated for making payments to officials of Brazilian state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. and other parties between 2011 and 2014 in order to win contracts with Petrobras and its related companies.

Keppel (O&M) was fined US$422.2 million (RM1.6 billion) and was served a conditional warning by CPIB.

“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,” said the bureau in its report.

The overall number of complaints received by the bureau also fell, as the CPIB received 778 complaints in 2017, a 3.7 per cent drop from the 808 complaints received the year before.

While all corruption complaints are investigated, a case is only registered for investigation if the information received is pursuable.

Complaints received can be both corruption-related, and non-corruption related. Over the last three years, about half of the complaints received were corruption-related. This year, that number was 368, a dip from 447 in 2016.

The CPIB said that corruption complaints lodged in person remained the most effective mode, because it allowed the bureau to obtain more detailed information about the complainants.

The majority of complaints received last year was from the e-Complaint module on the CPIB website. Feedback via this channel increased 8 per cent from 34 per cent in 2016, when most complaints were submitted via mail or fax.

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.

In February this year, Singapore was ranked as the sixth least corrupt country in the world — up a notch from its seventh-place standing the year before — according to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 released earlier in February. ― TODAY

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