SINGAPORE: In response to 27 charges including corruption against him, the former Transport Minister S Iswaran reiterated his innocence, vehemently rejecting all allegations.
He expressed his focus on clearing his name in a statement published on his Facebook account on Thursday (18 January).
“I am innocent and will now focus on clearing my name,” he said.
He added that he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, “even without being asked to do so”.
Mr Iswaran had earlier resigned as the Transport Minister, and Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, and relinquished his membership in the People’s Action Party (PAP).
He also pledged to return all salary and allowances received since the start of the CPIB’s investigations in July 2023.
In his latest post, Iswaran explained that returning the funds was a decision made by him and his family based on their belief in doing what is morally right.
“We cannot in all good conscience keep the monies when I was unable, on account of the investigations, to discharge my duties as a Minister and Member of Parliament in that period. ”
He added that he is deeply saddened that he will no longer be serving the residents of the West Coast.
“It has been a privilege to serve them over the past 26 years alongside a very dedicated group of grassroots leaders and activists. ”
He described the past months as particularly challenging for him and his family. He expressed gratitude to his family for their enduring love and unwavering support.
” My family and I are deeply touched by the continued support, kindness and encouragement of our friends and well-wishers.”
Transport Minister S Iswaran charged with 27 offences including corruption charges
On Thursday morning, he entered a plea of not guilty to all 27 charges linked to his interactions with property tycoon Ong Beng Seng.
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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