3.7% drop in complaints received by CPIB in 2017

Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in its press release states that it received a total of 778 complaints in 2017, a 3.7% drop from the 808 complaints received in 2016.

All corruption complaints that are received by the CPIB would be 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.

It is said that the complaints received were both corruption-related and non-corruption-related. For the past three years, about half the complaints received by the CPIB were corruption-related.

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.

Members of the public are advised by CPIB that they 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.

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.

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.

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.

CPIB said that there is no significant trend in the number of individuals prosecuted for offences investigated 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%.

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.

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.

CPIB notes that 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 (DP”) 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.

But CPIB did not really state when its investigation on the matter started, given that the coverage of the matter started in 2016 which Keppel denied any involvement in the matter.

Its 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.

CPIB claims that it has consistently achieved a high clearance rate annually, clearing 84% of cases in 2017.

The conviction rate for the past three years remained consistently high, above 97%.

CPIB noted that the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 has ranked Singapore as the 6th least corrupt country in the world. (Note that the index is based on perception, not what is in reality). Singapore has also maintained its first-place in the 2017 Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) annual survey on corruption.