Singapore to review anti-graft laws: 5 things about the Prevention of Corruption Act

SINGAPORE - Singapore will be reviewing the Prevention of Corruption Act and beefing up the manpower at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

The main anti-corruption legislation in Singapore was first enacted in 1960 and has been reviewed regularly. It was last revised in 1993.

When it was first enacted by then Home Affairs Minister Ong Pang Boon, bribery was rife in Singapore, and one of its main aims was to empower the CPIB with more extensive powers to investigate cases of corruption.

Things have improved since then, and Singapore has ranked in the top five of the Corruption Perceptions Index for more than a decade - until last year, when it fell to No. 7.

Here are some main points of the current law.

1. It is not just money or gifts

The definition of corruption is broad. Inducements offered to another with corrupt intent includes both material gain and intangible benefits.

It can be any of the following:

- Money, gifts, loans, fees, rewards, commissions or other property of any description

- Any office, employment or contract

- Any payment, release, discharge or liquidation of any loan, obligation or other liability

- Any other service, favour or advantage of any description

- Any offer, undertaking or promise of any gratification

2. Penalties

The maximum penalty under Sections 5 and 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is a fine of $100,000 and a jail term of five years. Offenders are also required to pay, as a fine, the amount they received as bribes.

Other legislation such as the Penal Code, and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes, Confiscation of Benefits Act have other penalties related to corruption offences.

3. Government employees held to higher standard

Section 7 says that when the offence involves the employee of the Government or a public body, the jail term can go up to seven years. When the individual who received a bribe is a public servant, the onus is on him to prove his innocence.

4. Extends beyond Singapore borders

Singaporeans are subject to the Act even when overseas, and may be dealt with as if the offence had been committed in Singapore, says section 37 of the Act.

5. Informers can remain anonymous

There is a specific provision in the Act for the protection of informers' identities.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday that there are plans to set up a one-stop corruption-reporting centre.

For now, one can lodge a complaint in the following ways:

- In person, at CPIB located at 2, Lengkok Bahru

- By writing a letter to CPIB

- Making a phone call to the CPIB duty officer on 1800-376-0000

- Through the CPIB website.

Sources: The Straits Times, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau website, Singapore Statutes Online

chuimin@sph.com.sg