US officials 'satisfied' with audit into S'pore institute

US officials 'satisfied' with audit into S'pore institute

A United States government audit into the Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME), employer of the American researcher found hanged in his apartment here in June last year, has been successfully completed.

The "process audit" of Dr Shane Todd's previous employer was concluded to satisfaction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Monday in response to media queries.

"The US officials who came for the audit were satisfied with the audit," said the statement.

The offer to audit IME was made by Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam to US Secretary of State John Kerry during his four-day visit to the US in March this year.

The parents of Dr Todd, 31, had claimed that their son was killed, possibly over military-related research he had done at IME, which could have compromised US national security.

They had alleged to the Financial Times in a February report that Dr Todd was involved in a joint project between IME and Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies that could be put to military ends. This involved a semiconductor material called gallium nitride (GaN), the FT said. Huawei had been accused by the US of espionage.

But Dr Todd's direct supervisor at IME, Dr Patrick Lo, clarified that while the researcher had been involved in talks to develop a GaN amplifier for commercial use, the proposed project eventually fell through.

A coroner's inquiry into Dr Todd's death which concluded in July this year said that a review of the Montana native's work at IME did not turn up any such research.

The coroner also found that the researcher had died from asphyxia by hanging, dismissing claims by his family that he had been murdered.

State Coroner Chay Yuen Fatt had said then that evidence presented proved that the deceased had hung himself against a door in his Spottiswoode Park apartment, where he was found by his girlfriend, a nurse working here.

When contacted, a spokesman for the US Embassy here confirmed that an audit was carried out by US officials. When asked if the outcome was satisfactory, he said that the US government "does not characterise these kinds of audits".

The Straits Times understands that US authorities do not classify the outcome of such audits as good, bad or satisfactory. They are considered to be in a "pending" stage, and should new information surface, they would be looked at.

IME did not respond by press time to The Straits Times' queries.

yanliang@sph.com.sg


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