SINGAPORE – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah has said she will explain the facts of the Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) corruption probe in Parliament on Monday, following which members of the public can decide for themselves.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Ms Indranee said she was aware that some people have made assertions about the stern warnings issued by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, to six former senior management staff of Keppel O&M in lieu of prosecution.
Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said: “These assertions are being made based on an inadequate understanding of the facts and of the deferred prosecution agreement between Keppel O&M and the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office.”
On Jan 11, the CPIB said the six former employees had been investigated over allegedly conspiring with one another to give bribes amounting to about US$55 million (S$72 million) to foreign consultants involved in Keppel O&M’s business interests in Brazil.
The money was then used to pay bribes to officials of Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras, pertaining to rig-building contracts that it or its related firms had awarded to Keppel O&M.
The offences fall under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Under a global resolution led by the US Department of Justice and involving Brazil and Singapore, a conditional warning in lieu of prosecution was issued to Keppel O&M for offences punishable under the Act. Keppel O&M paid a total fine of US$422 million and fulfilled all obligations under the conditional warning.
Ms Indranee said on Thursday that MPs have filed parliamentary questions on the matter, and she will address them and explain the facts during Monday’s parliamentary session.
She added that both the country and the Government do not condone or tolerate corruption.
She said: “This has always been our position, and continues to be so. If there were grounds and sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges, they would have been brought.
“At the same time, criminal proceedings cannot be initiated based on sentiment. The rule of law applies both ways.”
Workers’ Party MPs have filed more than 10 questions on the topic, ranging from whether the decision will affect Singapore’s reputation of zero tolerance towards corruption and what the factors in play were in deciding against prosecuting the six individuals, to whether it is in the public’s interest to disclose the names of the six individuals and how the decision to issue stern warnings was arrived at given the size of the bribes and the fine paid by Keppel O&M.
People’s Action Party MPs have also submitted questions on the topic, asking for more details on the reasons for issuing stern warnings in lieu of prosecution; a response from the Government to concerns that the penalty is too light; and whether measures can be taken to improve the deterrence and prosecution of cross-boundary corruption.