This is a developing story.
Following a “robust and thorough” investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), Transport Minister S Iswaran was charged with corruption today (January 18).
The Minister is given a total of 27 charges –- 24 charges of obtaining gratification as a public servant, two charges of corruption and one charge of obstructing the course of justice. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to a statement from Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, Minister Iswaran has resigned as a Cabinet minister and a member of the People’s Action Party (PAP).
He is also resigning as an MP for West Coast GRC, and will be returning all the monies he received as a Minister as well as his allowances as MP from the commencement of the investigations.
The timeline of events
CPIB first announced that Minister Iswaran would be assisting with an investigation into a case uncovered by the anti-graft agency on July 12 last year.
According to a separate statement by PM Lee, the investigation done by CPIB would require Minister Iswaran, as well as other individuals, to be interviewed by CPIB. PM Lee was briefed about the case by the Director of CPIB on July 5, and gave his concurrence to open a formal investigation on the next day.
When formal investigations began on July 11, Minister Iswaran was arrested and subsequently released on bail. PM Lee instructed the Minister to take leave of absence until the investigations were completed, and had his pay reduced to S$8,500 per month until further notice.
In Minister Iswaran’s absense, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat has served as the Acting Minister for Transport since July 12.
As part of the corruption probe, Hotel Properties Limited managing director Ong Beng Seng was also arrested on July 11 in relation to his interactions Minister Iswaran.
The CPIB investigation on the Minister was concluded and handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for review about a week ago on January 9, according to Minister Chan Chun Sing.
Minister Iswaran had business ties with Ong Beng Seng
Minister Iswaran has been served as the Minister for Transport since 2021 and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations since 2018. He was first elected into Parliament in 1997 as an MP for West Coast GRC and was appointed to cabinet in 2006.
He was promoted to full minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2011, and has held ministerial positions in the ministries of education, home affairs, and communications and information.
Before going into politics, the Minister has worked in both the public and private sectors, including at Temasek Holdings, where he reportedly had business ties with Ong, according to a 2007 Reuters article.
2007 was also the year that Singapore won the rights to host the first-ever Formula One night race on the streets of Marina Bay, in a deal which the property tycoon played a critical role in. Last year, the contract for Singapore to host the F1 race for another seven years was signed, marking the fourth renewal and the longest extension of the contract.
Minister Iswaran has been actively involved in the government’s engagements with F1, including making appearances at press conferences related to the event.
Prior to S Iswaran’s investigation, the first and last time a Cabinet minister was involved in a CPIB probe was back in 1986, when Teh Cheang Wan, who then served as the National Development Minister, was investigated for accepting bribes.
Teh took his own life before he could be charged in court.
Featured Image Credit: AFP file pic