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Corruption cases up slightly in 2018; private sector still dominates: CPIB

THE number of cases probed by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) inched up last year after hitting an all-time low in 2017, according to its freshly released statistics on Thursday.

About 107 new cases for investigation were registered in 2018, up from 103 cases previously. These were part of the 358 corruption-related reports received by the CPIB a year ago, which fell slightly from the 368 seen in 2017.

A report gets registered for investigation if the information received is evaluated to be pursuable.

The private sector once again formed the majority of corruption cases last year, making up 88 per cent of the total, with the other 12 per cent from the public sector.

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In the private sector, the two main “areas of concern” flagged by the CPIB are construction activities and building maintenance work. Corruption in construction activities generally involves building construction, work safety and inspection of construction work, while building maintenance work involves water leakage repair, air-conditioning maintenance, painting works, and building maintenance-related inspections.

Some 112 people were charged in Court for offences investigated by CPIB in 2018, with private sector individuals making up 107 of them, or 96 per cent. The remaining five people prosecuted were from the public sector.

One of the cases that the CPIB highlighted came from the construction industry.

Two directors from two related companies had paid bribes amounting to S$300,000 to Soh Yew Meng, a director of Resorts World Sentosa, to further their business interests in addition and alteration works at the hotel.

The duo who doled out the bribes were Tan Ken Huat, managing director of Shanghai Chong Kee Furniture & Construction (SCK) and Teo Wee Liap, director of Superiortec (a subcontractor of SCK).

The CPIB revealed that the individuals were initially uncooperative, but the bureau managed to nail them down from interviews as well as computer forensics work done to surface incriminating evidence from devices belonging to the individuals.

Tan and Teo were sentenced to nine months and six months imprisonment respectively, while Soh was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment.

Going forward, the CPIB noted that corruption cannot be overcome by enforcement efforts alone. To that end, it will work closely with partners from various industry sectors and the community to “tackle corruption more effectively”, it said in a statement.

To combat corruption in the private sector, the bureau had launched the Anti-Corruption Partnership Network (ACPN) in September 2018. It aims to encourage firms to adopt anti-corruption measures and inculcate a culture of integrity and business ethics among their staff through sharing sessions and discussions.