SINGAPORE — The commentary written by Senior Counsel Harpreet Singh about the decision by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) not to prosecute six former senior management staff of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd  (KOM) is no longer accessible on Singapore Law Watch (SLW).

The write-up by Mr Singh, which was published in SLW on Wednesday (1 Feb), was in response to CPIB’s announcement that, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), it would not be prosecuting six former senior management staff of KOM for their involvement in US$55 million in bribes paid to Brazilian state officials to secure thirteen large contracts there. Instead, they would be given “stern warnings”.

Mr Singh wrote that it is difficult to appreciate the decision, given how the company has openly admitted its involvement in the bribery and paid a massive US$422 million fine, on top of the large amount of evidence available of the bribery scheme.

He questioned if this signals a crack in Singapore’s long-professed policy of zero tolerance towards corruption.

“Should Singaporeans be concerned by the decision? The answer depends on what one makes of the CPIB’s justification for its decision and whether any further information is given. In the absence of compelling further information from the authorities, the decision is discomforting.”

Mr Singh also raised several points which questioned whether CPIB’s decision had been justifiable and put forth a number of questions that CPIB could answer so as to assure the public of its decision.

Noting that failure to prosecute cases like the present without strong justification, when the facts appear glaring, is highly damaging, Mr Singh voiced his concern about how this leads to unhelpful speculation that there is some other factor at play.

He wrote, “While the Attorney-General is not ordinarily required to explain his prosecutorial decisions, given the stakes involved here, it will be highly desirable that he does so in this case, ” and added, “If our national policy of zero tolerance for corruption is to have any meaning, it must involve the robust enforcement of our anti-corruption laws, whether the corruption takes place in Singapore or overseas.”

“That enforcement must extend not just to those who actively participate in giving a bribe, but also to all senior executives and board members (including those at the ultimate parent of group companies) who are aware of and who either condone the illicit payments or turn a blind eye towards them,”

In response to TOC’s query to SLW on why the commentary has been made inaccessible, a representative said, “The article was not within the editorial parameters of Singapore Law Watch which are focused on commentaries on the latest Singapore Supreme Court judgments and articles on recent legislative changes.”

Criminal proceedings cannot be initiated on sentiments, says Indranee Rajah

At the same time, Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, made a Facebook post on Thursday (2 Feb) about the discussions regarding the stern warnings issued.

I am aware some people have made assertions about the stern warnings issued by CPIB (in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC)) on 11 Jan 2023 to six former senior management staff of Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd (KOM) in lieu of prosecution.

These assertions are being made based on an inadequate understanding of the facts and of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) between KOM and the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office.

I will explain the facts at the next Parliamentary sitting on 6 Feb 2023, and the public can decide for themselves.

As a country and as a Government, we do not condone or tolerate corruption. This has always been our position, and continues to be so.

If there were grounds and sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges, they would have been brought.

At the same time, criminal proceedings cannot be initiated based on sentiment.

The rule of law applies both ways.

MPs have filed parliamentary questions on this matter. I will address the PQs and explain the facts in Parliament.

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