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Singapore corruption probes hit fresh low of 103 cases in 2017

CASES probed by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) fell to a fresh low in 2017, according to figures out on Wednesday.

The number of complaints received by the agency dipped by 3.7 per cent on the previous year, to 778 in 2017. About half of these, or 368 complaints, were deemed "corruption-related".

After the complaints were evaluated, some 103 cases were logged for investigation - down slightly from the 118 cases in 2016.

The vast majority of the probes - 95 of them - involved the private sector, generally over bribery for business contracts, the CPIB said.

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The bureau pegged the construction, wholesale and retail, and warehousing, transport and logistics services sectors as being "of concern" over the past four years.

Meanwhile, 141 people were hauled up in court over CPIB investigations in 2017, up from 104 in 2016, a rise that was "mainly due to cases involving multiple accused persons who were charged in court". Again, most of these individuals being prosecuted were from the private sector.

The CPIB also weighed in on the landmark Keppel Corporation corruption scandal, which saw the government-linked conglomerate's offshore and marine unit served with a conditional warning in Singapore, in lieu of prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Keppel Offshore & Marine ended up with a three-nation resolution deal after being investigated for making corrupt payments, between 2001 and 2014, to clinch contracts from Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro.

The 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", CPIB said in its statement on Wednesday.

"The CPIB does not condone any form of corrupt practices in Singapore or overseas. We strongly encourage Singapore companies, especially those with businesses overseas, to have a robust anti-corruption framework in place to prevent corrupt practices from occurring."