Singapore’s former transport minister S Iswaran slapped with 8 new charges

In Asia

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S. Iswaran, Singapore’s transport minister, leaves the Singapore State Courts in Singapore, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Iswaran was charged with corruption, the latest development in the biggest political scandal to hit the city state in close to four decades. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Singapore’s former Transport Minister S Iswaran was handed eight additional charges in court on Monday, bringing the total number of charges against him to 35.

The former minister returned from a court approved trip to Australia last week, after extending his trip due to a bout of illness.

In January, Iswaran was handed 27 charges, including corruption — he pleaded not guilty to those charges. According to local media, he also pleaded not guilty to the additional eight charges on Monday.

The new charges are under Section 165 of Singapore’s Penal Code, which deal with public servants accepting valuable items from others without consideration or with inadequate consideration.

Consideration refers to something of value to which a party is not already entitled, given to the party in exchange for contractual promises. 

According to CNBC’s calculation of the latest charge sheets, Iswaran improperly obtained items valued at 18,956.94 Singapore dollars, or $14,090.

They include accepting bottles of whisky and wine, as well as golf clubs and a Brompton bicycle, from a person named Lum Kok Seng, according to the charge sheets.

Why are political scandals and corruption in Singapore so rare?

Under the January charges, Iswaran was accused of obtaining tickets to the Singapore Grand Prix, soccer matches and shows in the UK, allegedly given by billionaire Ong Beng Seng.

According to CNBC’s calculations, Iswaran obtained 116 tickets to the Singapore Grand Prix between 2016 and 2022, worth 347,152.10 Singapore dollars ($258,388.78). Race events were not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Malaysian billionaire Ong is credited with bringing F1 to Singapore in 2008. In 2022, his privately owned firm Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board secured the rights to host the Singapore Grand Prix until 2028.

Last July, Ong was arrested by Singapore’s anti-graft agency as part of its investigation involving Iswaran.

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