Reviews of casino rules for public officers

SINGAPORE - The issue of whether tighter rules on public officers visiting casinos are needed has been included in the latest review of the public service code of conduct.

This was revealed by civil service head Peter Ong on Friday in an e-mail to the 136,000-strong public service, days after one of its own was hauled up to court for fraud and related offences.

Edwin Yeo, an assistant director from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), was charged on Wednesday with siphoning funds from the anti- graft agency and using them to feed his gambling habit at the casino in Marina Bay Sands.

Mr Ong said he was disappointed by Yeo's case, and such incidents "cast a pall over the honest work done by the majority of public officers every day". But he said the Public Service Division (PSD) will learn from the incident and tighten its processes.

"To this end, PSD will review if tighter rules with regard to visiting casinos should be put in place for the public service, especially those who work in areas where potential conflict of interest may arise or where there is a high risk of them becoming susceptible to being exploited," he added.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the PSD said there is no "across-the-board ban" on officers going to the casinos here. "Generally, public officers may visit casinos when they are off duty," it said. "However... some agencies have imposed restrictions." Casino Regulatory Authority officers, for instance, have been banned from visiting casinos - both here and abroad - belonging to the parent companies of the two operators here since 2008.

Since 2009, the police have also instituted a ban on visits to the casinos for officers from its Casino Crime Investigation Branch and those in Central and Clementi police divisions, who cover both integrated resorts.

Other police officers and those from the Central Narcotics Bureau are required to declare casino visits to their supervisors within seven days of each visit.

The Straits Times understands that CPIB will follow suit with its own restrictions soon.

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