Corruption cases now lowest in 7 years

From left: Peter Lim, ex-SCDF chief; Ng Boon Gay, ex-CNB chief; and Tey Hsun Hang, law professor at NUS. The three are among those being investigated in high-profile corruption cases this year.

The number of graft cases investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is at a seven-year low, the government agency said in its annual report.

According to the report, CPIB investigated a total of 138 cases in 2011, 75 per cent of which were from the private sector.

This is a drop from the 428 cases opened in 2005, continuing a trend of declining cases in the past seven years. Corruption has become a hot topic in the past year, as a number of high-profile cases involving public servants have made headlines.

Among those who have made headlines are Ng Boon Gay and Peter Lim, the former chiefs of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) involved in sex-for-contract scandals; Professor Tey Tsun Hang from the Law faculty at National University of Singapore linked to a sex-for-grades scandal; and a National Parks Board official in the Brompton bicycle purchase controversy.

The lower number of cases opened is believed to be a result of fewer complaints received.

A seven-year low of 757 complaints were received last year, CPIB said. Some of these complaints also lacked substantial information needed to launch probes.

Cases involving false marriages and scapegoat cases have also been removed from the CPIB portfolio and passed on to other enforcement agenccies since 2008.

Statistics show that the number of people charged for corruption has been declining since 2009.

Of the 135 people charged in 2011, 10 were from government agencies, statutory boards and government-linked companies. Many of those from the public sector who were charged were also found guilty.

In general, an estimated 92 per cent to 96 per cent of the cases opened in the past seven years resulted in conviction.

Associate Professor Ho Yew Kee from the National University of Singapore Business School told the Straits Times that the lower numbers could indicate that companies have improved their internal spot checks, and did not require CPIB involvement.

Singapore is known to be one of the most corrupt-free countries in the world, ranking fifth out of 183 countries in corruption watchdog Transparency International's annual list last year.

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