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MTI: Government finds no disadvantage in F1 and other contracts

The Ministry of Trade and Industry sees no evidence of F1 or other contracts disadvantaging the Government, despite ex-Minister S Iswaran’s charge over allegedly receiving S$384,000 in bribes from Singapore Grand Prix owner Ong Beng Seng between 2015 and 2022.

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SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) assured that all preparations for this year’s Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix are proceeding as planned, with no indications that the contracts for the event were disadvantageous to the government.

In response to the recent charges against former Transport Minister S Iswaran, the ministry in a statement issued on Thursday (18 January) stated that the government meticulously considered the terms of all agreements, supported by an independent consultancy study.

“The terms of all the agreements were considered carefully by the government. There was an independent consultancy study,” said MTI.

“There is nothing to suggest as of now that either the F1 contracts or other contracts were structured to the disadvantage of the government.”

This year’s edition of the Singapore night race is scheduled to take place from 20 to 22 September.

MTI said since the event’s debut in 2008, the F1 Singapore Grand Prix has attracted over 550,000 international visitors and generated approximately S$2 billion in incremental tourism receipts.

It has also raised Singapore’s reputation as a “vibrant global-asia node”.

“Between 2008 and 2022, the race captured a global audience of over 1 billion viewers,” MTI noted.

“Many international business events, such as the TIME100 Leadership Forum, the Forbes Global CEO Conference, the Milken Institute Asia Summit and SuperReturn Asia, have also been organised around the F1 race in Singapore to take advantage of the occasion for high-level networking and meetings.”

Beyond tourism, MTI emphasized the positive impact on local businesses, including logistics, transport, construction, and engineering services.

“Additionally, more than 1,000 students from the Institute of Technical Education and our polytechnics are trained for various roles around the F1 circuit park every year, providing them with a unique opportunity to participate in a world-class international event,” said MTI.

Former Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, S Iswaran, played a significant role in the government’s dealings with Formula 1 (F1).

On Thursday morning, he entered a plea of not guilty to all 27 charges linked to his interactions with property tycoon Ong Beng Seng.

Mr Ong, who holds the rights to the Singapore Grand Prix and serves as the chairman of race promoter Singapore GP, is central to the charges against Iswaran.

In response to the legal proceedings, Iswaran took the step of resigning from several key positions on Tuesday.

His resignations include stepping down as the Transport Minister, and Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, and relinquishing his membership in the People’s Action Party (PAP).

On Thursday, the Attorney-General’s Chambers announced it would decide on the anti-corruption agency’s investigation into Mr Ong once the case against Iswaran concludes.

Transport Minister S Iswaran charged with 27 offences including corruption charges

The pre-trial conference for Iswaran’s case is scheduled for 1 March and he is currently released on S$800,000 bail.

Mr Iswaran is defended by his lawyers, including Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, Mr Navin Thevar, Ms Sheiffa Safi Shirbeeni and Mr Rajvinder Singh from Davinder Singh Chambers.

The court heard that the 27 charges included two counts of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 24 counts related to receiving items from individuals with whom he had business dealings in his capacity as a public servant, and one charge for obstructing the course of justice under the Penal Code.

According to charge sheets, between 2015 and 2022, Iswaran received “valuable things” exceeding S$384,000 (US$285,000) from Ong.

These included tickets to shows, football matches, and multiple editions of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix.

He is accused of two corruption charges under Sections 6(a) and 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, allegedly receiving approximately S$145,434 in gratification from billionaire Ong Beng Seng in September 2022.

This alleged inducement was to promote Ong’s interests in connection with a contract between the Singapore Grand Prix and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Additionally, in December 2022, Iswaran allegedly obtained gratification valued at $20,848.03 from Mr Ong.

This was purportedly in exchange for advancing Mr Ong’s interests regarding a contract between the Singapore Grand Prix and the STB, along with a proposal for a contract with the STB.

The specific items reportedly obtained in the alleged corrupt transactions include an outbound flight on Mr Ong’s private plane from Singapore to Doha, estimated at US$7,700, one night’s stay at the Four Seasons Doha valued at approximately S$4,738, and a business class flight from Doha to Singapore with an estimated worth of about S$5,700.

Allegations of obstructing the course of justice

Additionally, he faces allegations of obstructing the course of justice on or around 25 May 2023.

As detailed in court documents,  he allegedly made a repayment of S$5,700 to Singapore GP, equivalent to the cost of his business flight ticket from Doha to Singapore.

This act was carried out with the knowledge that it was likely to obstruct the proper functioning of justice.

As a public servant, he is also accused of acquiring valuable items with a cumulative worth of approximately S$218,058.95 from Mr Ong on 24 occasions between November 2015 to December 2021.

Individuals convicted under Section 6(a) may face imprisonment for a maximum of five years, a fine of up to S$100,000, or both.

Similarly, under Section 7, the potential penalties include imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to S$100,000, or both.

For the offence of attempting to obstruct the course of justice, the consequences entail a possible imprisonment term of up to seven years, a monetary fine, or a combination of both.

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Do u believe the SG Tourism Board is clean, since it worked together with Ong Beng Seng too.

When 🇺🇸 DoJ investigated Keppel Corpn giving Bribery, they did it thoroughly SUCCESSFULLY indicted Keppel and fine them 100s of Millions of Dollars.

What did the CPIB do? How did CPIB performed?

It SHOWED CLEARLY how INVESTIGATIONS are DONE in USA 🇺🇸 and in Sheepgapore.

Look harder…..I am sure YOU will do that it is your own money?

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