A former BP executive in Singapore was charged on Thursday with obtaining nearly $4m in bribes, in what amounts to one of the largest alleged corruption cases the Southeast Asian financial centre has ever dealt with.
Clarence Chang Peng Hong, a former regional director for marine fuels with BP, was charged with 19 counts of obtaining bribes from an executive of a petroleum products supplier as an inducement for advancing the supplier’s interests with BP.
The offence is punishable with a fine of S$100,000, imprisonment for a maximum of 7 years, or both.
Chang was also charged in a Singapore court with 16 counts of transferring S$4.7m, which were allegedly benefits of corruption, from a Hong Kong bank account to Singapore accounts.
He was also charged with converting property, which is alleged to be the direct or indirect benefit of corruption, into other property and share capital.
Alfonso Ang, a lawyer representing Mr Chang, said that no plea had been entered at court on Thursday.
Asked whether his client would contest the charges, Mr Ang said that he was still taking instructions. The case is next due for mention on April 6.
Singapore is widely regarded as having some of the world’s cleanest public institutions, and ranks 7th in Transparency International’s latest corruption perceptions index, between Norway and the Netherlands.
However it has faced some egregious cases of corruption. In 2014, a senior official at Singapore’s anti-corruption agency, Edwin Yeo, was sentenced to ten years in prison for the misappropriation of about S$1.76 in public funds.
Local media reports said Mr Yeo lost some of the money gambling at Singapore’s two casinos and the Singapore Pools, the state lottery.
More recently, Singapore’s financial regulator has imposed fines on banks for breaches of anti-money laundering regulations related to Malaysian state investment fund 1MDB.