SINGAPORE — Former Transport Minister S Iswaran has been charged with multiple corruption offences on Thursday (Jan 18), after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) wrapped up investigations and the case has been reviewed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which is the legal adviser to the Government.
Here is a look at the developments leading up to the court proceedings.
- JULY 5, 2023 — CPIB SEEKS TO OPEN INVESTIGATIONS
CPIB’s director briefs Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on a case that it has “uncovered” about Iswaran and sought his agreement to open formal investigations.
Mr Lee agreed and the agency began the process on July 11.
- JULY 11, 2023 – ISWARAN, ONG BENG SENG ARRESTED
CPIB arrests Iswaran and property tycoon Ong Beng Seng.
Both men were later released on bail and as part of their bail conditions, both their passports were impounded.
- JULY 12, 2023 — CPIB MAKES PUBLIC THE PROBE
CPIB releases a media statement saying Iswaran is “assisting with investigations”.
Mr Lee issues a separate statement saying he had instructed the minister to take a leave of absence until the probe is completed.
Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport, is to be Acting Minister for Transport in the meantime.
- JULY 12, 2023 – DPM GIVES MORE DETAILS
Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong says that CPIB came upon Iswaran’s case while doing an investigation on an unrelated, separate matter.
The latest probe did not arise from a public complaint and was “completely driven by CPIB from the beginning”, he adds.
Mr Wong assures the public that the Government would be upfront and transparent on the developments, even if they are potentially embarrassing or damaging to the ruling People’s Action Party and to the Government.
He also says that Members of Parliament (MPs) from West Coast Group Representation Constituency will cover Iswaran’s MP duties in the meantime.
- JULY 13, 2023 — ISWARAN TO STAY IN SINGAPORE DURING PROBE
Iswaran will remain in Singapore during his leave of absence, the Prime Minister’s Office says. He will also have “no access to any official resources and government buildings”.
- JULY 14, 2023 — ONG BENG SENG LEAVES SINGAPORE
Hotel Properties Limited announces on the Singapore Exchange website that its founder and managing director Ong Beng Seng was arrested and assisting with the probe into the same case.
No charges have been filed against the tycoon and he posts bail of S$100,000. He will be travelling overseas from July 14 and will surrender his passport to CPIB on his return.
- JULY 18, 2023 — ISWARAN, ONG SEEN AT CPIB
Iswaran is seen by reporters from The Straits Times arriving at the CPIB building in the Redhill area at about 10.50am. TODAY spots him leaving at 8.48pm on the same day in an Audi sports utility vehicle.
Mr Ong is seen entering and leaving CPIB’s headquarters on the same day. He was asked to provide information in relation to his interactions with the minister. The 77-year-old Malaysian billionaire is often credited for bringing the Formula 1 night race to Singapore.
Iswaran was Minister of State for Trade and Industry at the time, when a deal was struck in 2007 between the Singapore Tourism Board and then-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
- JULY 20, 2023 — WHY ARREST WAS NOT MADE KNOWN EARLIER
In response to an online article stating that Iswaran’s case was “politically embarrassing” for the Government and that was why Mr Lee and Mr Wong did not want to disclose the minister’s arrest when they made public statements on July 12, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) office issues a statement to say that disclosing such information was CPIB’s “call to make”.
- AUG 2, 2023 — PARLIAMENT HEARS ABOUT ISWARAN’S PAY CUT
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, addresses MPs’ questions on the probe in Parliament.
Mr Lee makes a ministerial statement to say Iswaran is not allowed to carry out his duties and is getting a reduced pay of S$8,500 a month until further notice.
Iswaran still draws an MP’s allowance because this differs from a minister’s pay and does not come under the prime minister’s discretion. The annual MP allowance is S$192,500.
- SEPT 19, 2023 — PARLIAMENT DEBATES MOTIONS TO SUSPEND ISWARAN
Parliament debates suspending Iswaran and the outcome was to “consider the matter” after investigations end because it would be premature to do so otherwise.
If he does face charges, one consideration might be to claw back his salary and allowance without waiting for legal process to be completed.
Mr Chan says in Parliament that CPIB has wrapped up a “robust and thorough” investigation into Iswaran and it is being reviewed by AGC.
“I understand that there is much public interest in this matter. I want to give my assurance that this case will be put through the due legal process,” he adds.
- JAN 18, 2024 — ISWARAN CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION
Appearing at the State Courts, Iswaran was handed 27 charges of corruption, receiving gratification as a public servant and obstructing justice. A total of 24 offences are under Section 165 of the Penal Code, two under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and one for obstruction of justice.
Represented by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, he pleaded not guilty to the charges and intends to contest them.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Iswaran has resigned from the Cabinet and the People’s Action Party, and also quit as an MP. He will return the pay that he received since CPIB’s investigations started.