Last week’s decision by the Chief Justice of Singapore’s Supreme Court entitled Public Prosecutor v Syed Mostofa Romel is important for shipping companies operating in Singapore. The decision regards bribery charges against a local vessel surveyor who on three occasions solicited bribes from ship masters for issuing favorable inspection reports that would allow the ships to enter an oil terminal. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon disagreed with a district judge that had sentenced the respondent, Syed Mostofa Romel, to a two-month imprisonment and instead argued that given the circumstances the jail time should be extended to at least six months per charge, (at least 12 months). Chief Justice Menon’s explanation may be used in future maritime-related bribery cases in Singapore.
Singapore’s 1960 Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) applies to both the supply and demand side of a bribery transaction including agents, and is punishable by a fine of up to SGD$100,000 or imprisonment up to five years, or both. The PCA does not contain any exceptions for “customary” payments, including facilitation payments.
Any person who is suspected of bribery can be arrested and searched without a warrant by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). The CPIB can also investigate any bank account or safe deposit box belonging to a suspect of a bribery offence. Given the growing international cooperation in bribery investigations, it is plausible to assume that non-Singapore citizens or residents could be implicated in national investigations with the information being subsequently shared with other national authorities.
The original article can be found at www.traceinternational.org