There has been no reason to debar marine firm ST Marine from securing a tender to build 12 aluminium-hulled patrol boats, said Second Finance Minister Indranee Rajah yesterday.
She told Parliament: "In the case involving ST Marine, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau investigations did not reveal any connection with a government agency or contract. Hence, the circumstances in which debarment can be recommended under the policy parameters did not arise."
She added that debarment from participation in government contracts is a separate exercise from court proceedings and is aimed at protecting the Government's interests as a service buyer. It also does not duplicate the courts' function of adjudication or punishment.
She was responding to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, who asked Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat why his ministry's Standing Committee on Debarment did not debar firms convicted of corruption in private-sector contracts from tendering for government contracts.
ST Marine's former group financial controller and six other former senior executives were convicted in 2017 of offences committed between 2000 and 2011. They ceased to be employed by ST Marine between 2004 and 2014.
Ms Indranee said: "In this case, the charges and convictions were against the individuals involved.
"The company itself, ST Marine, which is a separate legal entity, did not have any charges or convictions against it. A new board was appointed as of 15 Aug, 2018. The Police Coast Guard tender was awarded in November 2018.
"Companies or individuals convicted of corruption are thus penalised through the legal system.
"The penalties apply to cases involving both public and private sector-related contracts. The underlying rationale is because society as a whole is harmed by such conduct."