Court mulls over legal points in 2 graft acquittals

Court mulls over legal points in 2 graft acquittals

SINGAPORE - Prosecutors yesterday took two unrelated cases of private sector corruption – in which the convictions were overturned on appeal – to the highest court in Singapore, arguing that the decisions were wrong in law.

The men in the cases – former Ikea food and beverage manager Leng Kah Poh and former Seagate senior director of logistics Henry Teo Chu Ha – were acquitted by Justice Choo Han Teck.

The High Court judge ruled in separate judgments on Sept 18 last year that their actions did not amount to corruption.

But the prosecution disagrees with his interpretation of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which will affect future bribery cases as his decisions are binding on judges in the State Courts.

Prosecutors referred the two cases to the Court of Appeal, asking it to determine legal questions of public interest. If the apex court agrees with the prosecution, it could lead to the acquittals being overturned. The three-judge court, comprising Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang and Justice Tay Yong Kwang, will issue written decisions at a later date.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee, who argued in the case of Mr Leng, said that Justice Choo’s “judicial pronouncements, if uncorrected, undermine and set back Singapore’s anti-corruption efforts immeasurably”.

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