Pritam Singh asks for updates on Keppel O&M and FAS corruption probes

Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh addresses Parliament on Tuesday, 2 February 2021. (PHOTO: Ministry of Communications and Information YouTube channel
Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh addressed Parliament on 2 February 2021. (SCREENCAP: Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh on Friday (26 February) asked the government to give an update on two separate corruption probes into Keppel Offshore and Marine (O&M), and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and two local football clubs.

Singh was speaking at the start of the Committee of Supply (COS) debates in Parliament, with Members of Parliament (MPs) addressing topics and asking questions for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“I understand that investigations can take some time to complete. But in view of the profile of the latter two cases (Keppel O&M and FAS) in particular, which involved people of some status, there is a real public interest as to why these matters have not closed yet,” the leader of The Workers’ Party (WP) asked.

On 22 December 2017, US officials said Keppel O&M agreed to pay US$422 million in fines to the US, Brazil and Singapore to settle bribery cases involving Brazilian contracts.

In Singapore, Keppel O&M accepted a conditional warning by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in lieu of prosecution, in part because the company voluntarily reported internal findings to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and cooperated with investigators.

Separately, on 20 April 2017, Singapore police officers raided the premises of the FAS, Tiong Bahru Football Club (FC) and Hougang United FC following a police report filed by Sport Singapore (SportSG) over the alleged misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru FC.

SportsSG said then in a statement that it investigated the matter following media reports that Tiong Bahru FC had donated $500,000 to the Asean Football Federation through the FAS. Four key individuals were investigated in relation to the probe including Zainudin Nordin, ex-FAS President and former Bishan-Toa Payoh MP.

Singh, who is Aljunied GRC MP, asked, “What is holding up the investigations into the Keppel matter? Because it does not seem fathomable that the company can admit to offences but at the same time, there's insufficient evidence to lay at the feet of senior Keppel officials thus far. Separately, when can the public anticipate a closure to the FAS matter?”

In response to Singh’s questions, Minister in the PMO Indranee Rajah said the Keppel O&M case is complex and transnational involving multiple authorities and potential foreign witnesses from several countries, with Singapore authorities working closely with foreign investigating and prosecuting agencies on the matter.

AGC and CPIB made two fact-finding trips to Brazil in May and August 2019, Indranee said. As there is a need to obtain additional information from other witnesses based overseas, the two agencies have sent a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to Brazil, following the earlier fact-finding trips and the request is pending a response.

AGC and CPIB are also working together to send more MLA requests to other relevant foreign authorities to interview these potential witnesses, Indranee added.

“While our intention is to move as expeditiously as possible, not all aspects of the investigation are within our control, particularly in relation to the requests and applications made and filed in other jurisdictions. The current COVID-19 situation globally has also made the cross jurisdiction investigation efforts more challenging,” Indranee said.

CPIB is unable to comment further on the case so as to protect the integrity of investigations, she added.

On the FAS matter, Indranee revealed that the gist of the cut of topics filed by Singh for the PMO to address in the COS debate only indicated an update on the Keppel investigations.

“So I'm sorry I don't have the information on FAS, but perhaps Mr. Singh might like to file a parliamentary question on that,” Indranee said.

On 8 January 2018, several WP MPs including Singh also raised questions in Parliament about the Keppel O&M corruption case, with Indranee also answering their questions then.

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