Fewer corruption reports in 2019 but more cases probed

CPIB credits better quality information and improved investigation processes

CPIB said it received 350 corruption-related reports last year, a six-year low.
CPIB said it received 350 corruption-related reports last year, a six-year low.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The corruption situation in Singapore remains firmly under control, said the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), even as it received fewer reports and probed more cases last year.

Releasing its annual statistics yesterday, the CPIB said it received 350 corruption-related reports last year, a six-year low, and of these, 119 were registered for investigation.

This is compared with 358 reports received and 107 new cases registered for investigation in 2018, and 368 reports received and 103 new cases probed in 2017.

A report is registered for investigation if there is enough evidence for the CPIB to investigate. This is determined by the quality of relevant information provided.

The bureau attributed the higher percentage of reports registered for investigation last year to better quality information it got, coupled with efforts to improve its investigation processes.

Better prevention and outreach efforts also raised awareness and encouraged the public to report cases of corruption, said the CPIB, citing the case against police staff sergeant Mahendran Selvarajoo, who was charged in November last year with corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from two women under investigation and for Computer Misuse Act offences.

Media coverage of the case led to the bureau receiving information relating to offences of a similar nature involving other people.

It said: "The CPIB takes a serious view of all reports and information that may disclose any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"They are thoroughly reviewed regardless of the nature or amount of gratification, or whether the complainant is named or anonymous."

Similar to previous years, the vast majority of corruption cases probed came from the private sector, with 107 registered last year.

Of these cases, 11 involved public-sector employees - from the police, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and Singapore Customs - rejecting bribes offered by private-sector individuals.

A total of 147 people were taken to court for offences investigated by the CPIB last year.

  • 350 

  • Number of corruption-related reports received by the CPIB last year, a six-year low, and of these, 119 were registered for investigation.

Of these, 142 were from the private sector and about 30 per cent of them were in construction and building maintenance - sectors previously flagged as areas of concern.

Last year, the bureau completed probes into 85 per cent of the individuals it investigated, a 5 percentage point improvement from 2018 despite an increased workload.

It also maintained a 99 per cent conviction rate, meaning almost all of the suspects prosecuted were sentenced in court.

The CPIB said Singapore continues to be well-regarded internationally for its anti-corruption efforts.

The Republic improved its score and maintained its top position as the least corrupt country in Political and Economic Risk Consultancy's latest 2020 Corruption Survey, and ranked fourth in Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Said CPIB director Denis Tang: "Corruption must not be allowed to creep into our way of life and undermine Singapore's reputation... CPIB remains resolute and committed in combating corruption and will continue to strengthen its operational capabilities to better detect and investigate corruption offences."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2020, with the headline 'Fewer corruption reports in 2019 but more cases probed'. Subscribe