Government must investigate Keppel case

I have been in a state of disbelief after reading reports on the developments of the Keppel Offshore and Marine (KOM) bribery scandal (Bribes for overseas deals: 2 local firms charged since 1997; Jan 6).

KOM was recently fined US$422 million (S$562 million) for making corrupt payments in Brazil between 2001 and 2014.

But it is now known that Keppel Group, through its subsidiaries, including Keppel Shipyard (now part of KOM), has been involved in and convicted of corrupt practices before.

It seems that Keppel had not instituted robust governance systems and policies to prevent it from happening again.

It was reported that Mr Tong Chong Heong, who was one of the Keppel directors directly implicated in the 1997 corruption scandal, was also the chief executive officer of KOM at the time the recent bribery activities were sanctioned.

This raises questions on Keppel's decision to appoint him as CEO.

It is perplexing that KOM was issued a "conditional warning" by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in lieu of prosecution for the corrupt payments in Brazil.

As Keppel is a government-linked company, it is important that the Government conducts an open investigation into this scandal.

Needless to say, this incident has dented Singapore's brand of incorruptibility and honesty.

Sattar Bawany (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2018, with the headline 'Government must investigate Keppel case'. Print Edition | Subscribe