Singapore minister charged with corruption, resigns, in rare case

Singapore minister charged with corruption, resigns, in rare case
# 18 January 2024 11:14 (UTC +04:00)

Singapore's Transport Minister S. Iswaran was charged with 27 offences in a graft investigation, the anti-corruption agency said on Thursday, in one of the highest-profile cases involving a minister in the Asian financial hub in decades, APA reports citing Reuters.

In a resignation letter dated Tuesday but published by the prime minister's office on Thursday, Iswaran said he rejected the charges and "will now focus on clearing my name".

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said Iswaran, who was arrested in July last year, was alleged to have obtained kickbacks worth S$384,340.98 ($286,181) from property tycoon Ong Beng Seng, partly to advance Ong's business interests.

Charge sheets show the favours include tickets to football matches, musicals, a flight on Ong's private plane and tickets to the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix. Iswaran was advisor to the Grand Prix's steering committee, while Ong owns the rights to the race.

Iswaran faces a total of 27 charges, including corruption and obstructing the course of justice, the CPIB said in a statement.

If convicted of corruption, he could be fined up to S$100,000 or face seven years in prison.

There was no immediate response to emails seeking comment from Ong's office. The property tycoon was also arrested in July as part of the corruption probe. He has not been charged.

The case has gripped Singapore, a major Asian financial hub that prides itself on a squeaky clean government that is rarely affected by graft and scandals involving political leaders.

Civil servants are highly paid to discourage corruption. The annual salary of many cabinet ministers exceeds S$1 million.

In 2022, Transparency International ranked the city-state the fifth least corrupt country in its International Corruption Perceptions Index of 180 nations.