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How Singapore’s corruption law applies overseas

Contributed by Jarret Tham, Head of Compliance

If a Singaporean bribes people abroad, he commits a crime that can be prosecuted in Singapore. Even if the bribe is refused, an attempt to give a bribe is also a crime. The potential punishment is the same as if the bribe was actually given.

The above information was part of a series of articles and circulars published recently in the Singapore Law Watch and news channels such as CNA . The key discussion is on corruption and how Singapore's corruption law is applied to businesses and individuals abroad and why those under probe must comply with Corruption Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

In the annual report compiled by CPIB in 2022, it is reported that corruption in Singapore remains firmly under control, with Singapore’s ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index at fourth place out of 180 countries, recording one of the lowest levels of corruption worldwide.

While remaining strong in our corruption practices, it notes that with the expansion of Singaporean businesses abroad, foreign corruption is a growing area of concern. Therefore, to educate readers on how Singapore law’s reach has been extended in the area of corruption, the article also defines the process of bribery and corruption and how those involved are identified and convicted.

Based on the published information being an abettor of bribery can result in an individual being convicted and prosecuted in Singapore. Abetment can be classified into 3 categories: conspiracy, where one plots to bribe, and therefore can be prosecuted based on the plan alone, even without the act of doing so; instigation, where one directs another in the act of the bribery; and intentional aiding where one who has knowledge of an intention to bribe chooses to offer aid in the matter. Planning, initiating, instructing, and aiding are acts of abetment that can result in the prosecution of crime in Singapore.

Wilful blindness is also described in the article as closing one’s eyes to obvious illegality and not asking questions to avoid actual knowledge. Such actions can be judged as the individual having actual knowledge of bribery and corruption. It is advised that when in suspicion of corruption, one should always ask pointed questions and put a stop to it.

One should also remember that just because the act is not committed in Singapore, it does not mean that one would not be prosecuted.

At CYS Global Remit Pte Ltd, we have a robust system with training and reporting standards for dealing with bribery and corruption. Our training and education are designed to instil a high level of vigilance in our employees, both at work and in their everyday lives; emphasising the responsibility and importance of the collective effort to maintain strong anti-corruption practices and uphold the professional integrity of CYS Global Remit.

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