13 Dec AGC won't appeal Khoo's sentence

13 Dec AGC won't appeal Khoo's sentence
Above photo is Peter Khoo, the former senior vice-president for Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) English and Malay Newspapers Division and head of its Editorial Projects Unit, avoided a jail sentence for corruption and criminal breach of trust on 6 December 2012.

SINGAPORE - Prosecutors who had sought a custodial sentence plus a fine against former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) senior executive Peter Khoo told BT yesterday that they had decided not to appeal the sentence issued by the Subordinate Court.

Khoo, who pleaded guilty to charges of corruption and criminal breach of trust (CBT), last week was fined $100,000 (in default of 20 weeks' jail) and a penalty of $83,500 (in default of 16 weeks' imprisonment).

Both penalties have been paid. In an emailed statement to BT yesterday, the Attorney- General's Chambers (AGC) said it had "carefully reviewed" Subordinate Court District Judge Soh Tze Bian's grounds of decision and noted that he had "made it clear that this was a 'unique' case 'without precedent'".

In particular, Judge Soh had explained that this case had strong mitigating factors that were "absent from other precedent cases".

These included Khoo's "voluntary and detailed confession to his superiors and to the police, when there was no informant or paper trail that could have led to him; his full cooperation with police investigations; and the full restitution he made at a very early stage", the AGC said.

SPH had "not suffered any real serious loss or detriment" from Khoo's crimes because he had made full restitution of $196,500 even before he was questioned by the police or CPIB (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau) and charged for taking kickbacks and stealing shopping vouchers.

In deciding not to appeal Khoo's sentence, the AGC noted that Judge Soh had stressed that there is "no presumption in favour of a non-custodial sentence for private sector corruption cases; and the main sentencing considerations in a corruption case are deterrence and punishment".

The judge said he treated Khoo as a "first-time offender as the law had caught up with him only due to his aforesaid full and detailed confession".

Without this, all 10 of Khoo's offences - which took place between July 2006 and September 2010 - would have been "difficult to detect and prove against him".

In providing a 10-page written plea of guilt to the police and CPIB, and accepting the prosecution's offer without making any representations regarding the charges, Judge Soh found Khoo's plea genuine and remorseful, as well as "a decisive display to correct his lost moral compass and to purge his guilt to society".

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