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Rare news from Singapore: Former BP exec charged with taking bribes

A former executive of BP Singapore was charged Thursday with taking about $4.3 million in bribes from a local businessman.

Chang Peng Hong Clarence, BP’s former eastern regional director for marine fuels, allegedly took bribes from Koh Seng Lee, the executive director of Pacific Prime Trading. PPT supplies petroleum products.

Chang was charged with 20 counts of bribery and 16 counts of transferring corrupt proceeds from an HSBC account in Hong Kong to three accounts in Singapore.

The 51-year-old former executive allegedly used the bribe money to buy properties in Singapore, including three houses and two condo units. He also invested in a Singapore preschool, prosecutors said.

Public and private corruption is punishable in Singapore with fines of about $350,000 and up to seven years in prison for each charge.

Corruption cases there are rare. Singapore ranked seventh in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, between Norway and the Netherlands.

But last year Singapore authorities shut down two private banks and banned a former Goldman Sachs banker implicated in the 1MDB scandal.

In 2014, a Singapore court sentenced a senior anti-corruption official to ten years in prison after he confessed to stealing about $1.4 million in public funds to pay gambling debts. Edwin Yeo had served in the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for 15 years.

In 2011, two bureaucrats from the Singapore Land Authority were jailed for stealing about $10 million from the government. Koh Seah Wee was jailed 22 years and Lim Chai Meng received 15 years.

They bought apartments and cars, including a $1.25 million Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV and a Ferrari F430. The sentencing judge said buying the limited-edition Lamborghini was a “rather egoistic act.”

There was another big case in 1995. Choy Hon Tim, a deputy chief executive at the Public Utilities Board, was jailed 14 years for taking about $10 million in kickbacks. It was then Singapore’s largest public sector graft case. Choy was released in 2005 for good behavior.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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