What is the governing legislation?

  • Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241, 1993 Rev Ed)
  • Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed)
  • Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Cap 65A, 2000 Rev Ed)

What are the offences?

The paradigm of corruption as found in Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is a situation involving the briber, the recipient of the bribe and the person to whom the recipient owes a duty. The purpose of the briber bribing the recipient is to cause the recipient to act in the briber’s interest and against the interest of the person to whom the recipient owes a duty.

Additionally, under Section 5 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, it is an offence for a person to:-

  • corruptly solicit, receive, or agree to receive for himself or any other person; or
  • corruptly give, promise or offer to any person whether for the benefit of that person or of another person

any gratification as an inducement to or reward for:-

  • any person (including any member, official or servant of a public body) doing or forbearing to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, actual or proposed; or
  • in the case of public body, in respect of any matter or transaction, actual or proposed, in which the public body is concerned.

It is also an offence for an agent to corruptly accept or receive any gratification in relation to his principal’s affairs, or for a person to seek to corruptly influence an agent, or for an agent to deceive his principal by way of a false document and, to bribe a Member of Parliament.

The offences under the Penal Code relate mainly to the public sector. It is an offence under the Penal Code for public officials and servants to take a gratification, other than a legal remuneration, in respect of an official act, or to receive a gratification to corruptly influence a public servant or for the exercise of personal influence over a public servant.

It is an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act to deal with proceeds from drug trafficking or criminal conduct statutorily deemed to be a serious offence and/or from any benefits derived therefrom. This includes corruption offences committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

What are the exceptions/ defences?

There are no statutory defences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In determining whether an offence has been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it will have to be shown that (i) objectively, the transaction had a corrupt element; and (ii) the offender knew that what he was doing was objectively corrupt.

It is not a defence to say that the giving or receipt of a gratification/ payment is an industry practice or business custom.

What are the sanctions?

The punishment under the Prevention of Corruption Act is a fine not exceeding SGD 100,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 7 years or both.

In addition, pursuant to Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, where an offence involves the payment of monies, or the value of the bribe can be assessed, penalties may be paid in addition to the punishment.

The maximum penalty under the Penal Code is a fine and imprisonment of up to 3 years.

The relevant authority, being the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau has the power to seize property and freeze bank accounts.

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