The Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241 of Singapore (the “PCA”), which applies to both private sector bribery and bribery of public officials, is Singapore’s primary anti-corruption legislation. The Penal Code, Chapter 224 of Singapore (the “Penal Code”), which contains measures intended against public officials, is another piece of bribery legislation.
Because the Penal Code’s corruption/bribery offenses for public officials largely overlap with those in the PCA, and the penalties meted out under the Penal Code are less severe than those prescribed under the PCA, prosecutions for the receiving or taking of illegal gratification under the Penal Code are uncommon.
A person commits a corruption offense if he, alone or in collaboration with another person:
(a) corruptly solicits or receives, or agrees to receive, for himself or another person; or (b) corruptly gives, promises, or offers to any person, whether for his or another person’s benefit, any gratification as an inducement to or reward for, or otherwise on account of any person to do or forbear to do anything in respect of any matter or transaction whatsoever, any gratification as an inducement to or reward for, or otherwise on account of any person to do or forbear
As a result, the two most important factors are: (a) the transaction was tainted; and (b) pleasure was given/received.
According to the ordinary and objective criterion, there must first be a corrupt element in the transaction, followed by the accused’s guilty awareness that what he was doing was corrupt under that standard.
Both limbs must be met without a shadow of a doubt. As a result, the term “corrupt” would be determined based on the facts of each instance.
When it is proven that gratification was paid to Singapore public officials, there is a presumption of corruption.
The PCA defines “gratification” as “any other service, favour, or advantage of any description whatsoever,” which includes money, presents, loans, fees, rewards, commissions, valued securities and properties, as well as “any other service, favour, or advantage of any sort whatsoever.”
The Penal Code prohibits, among other things, any public servant from receiving any gratification as a motive or reward for doing or forbearing to do any official act, or any person from receiving any gratification as a motive or reward for inducing any public servant to do or forbear to do any official act through the use of personal influence.
The PCA and the Penal Code both have relatively broad definitions of “public person.”
A public body, according to the PCA, is “any corporation, board, council, commissioners, or other body with power to act under and for the purposes of any written law relating to public health, undertakings, or public utility, or to administer money levied or raised by rates or charges in pursuance of any written law.” A Singapore court has ruled that this includes the National University of Singapore, an autonomous university that offers tertiary education to the general public.
Officers in the Singapore Armed Forces, judges, officers of a court of justice, assessors aiding a court of justice or public servant, and officers of and acting on behalf of the Singapore government are all considered “public servants” under the Penal Code.
On conviction, a person convicted of bribery of a public official under the key provisions of the PCA (Section 5 or Section 6) faces a fine of up to SGD 100,000, or a period of imprisonment of up to five years, or both. Certain offenses involving government contracts or bribery of a member of a public body, depending on the circumstances, can result in a fine of up to SGD 100,000, or a sentence of up to seven years in jail, or both. If a person is found guilty of accepting any gratification in violation of the PCA, the court may also compel him to pay a fine equal to the amount of bribes he took.
Please note that the Singapore High Court has emphasized that there are no sentencing presumptions in the case of commercial and public sector corruption, both of which can result in prison sentences.
Any firm, association, or group of people falls under the definition of “person,” and as a result, a firm could face bribery charges. Although bribery offenses have only been punished on an individual basis in Singapore to date, there is no legal impediment to organizations being tried for bribery.
The CDTSA’s definition of “criminal behavior” encompasses a wide variety of significant violations, including bribery under the PCA. If a defendant is convicted of one or more major offenses, the court may, upon the public prosecutor’s request, issue a confiscation order against him in respect of profits gained from criminal conduct, if the court is satisfied that such benefits were obtained.
Bribery is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine, or both, under the Penal Code.
Political contributions that are not made with the objective of corrupting a public worker or encouraging them to conduct or refrain from doing any official act are legal. However, as previously stated, where it is proven that gratification was paid to public officials in Singapore, the PCA creates a presumption of corruption.
There are no “safe harbor” monetary guidelines for gifts, hospitality expenses, or other entertainment in the Penal Code or the PCA, and there are no favorable presumptions under the statutes if such presents are beneath a specific monetary amount. Any arrangements that may be regarded lavish, expensive, or excessive in such a way that an inference might be drawn that the arrangements were intended as a form of corruption should be avoided in general, and solely as a rule of thumb.
We realize that no public official may take presents in his or her personal role, based on anecdotal evidence. Gifts should only be made to the appropriate government department, and the giver should make the offer in writing to the applicable Permanent Secretary (or at the very least the official’s superior or head of department).
Bribery in the private sector is prohibited under the PCA.
Section 5 (and Section 6) of the PCA also apply to private bribery, according to paragraph 1.2.
Bribery is punishable by a fine of up to SGD 100,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to five years, or both, as stated in paragraph 1.4. If a person is found guilty of accepting any gratification in violation of the PCA, the court may also compel him to pay a fine equal to the amount of bribes he took. The CDTSA also allows Singapore courts to issue a confiscation order against a defendant for profits earned from the bribery offense (as mentioned in paragraph 1.4).
Furthermore, as stated in paragraph 1.4, there are no sentencing presumptions in the private and public sectors, both of which can result in prison sentences.
The PCA does not establish any safe harbor monetary standards for gifts, hospitality expenses, or other entertainment, as noted in paragraph 1.6, nor does it create any favorable presumptions if such gifts are under a specified monetary value.
In the case of foreign public officials, there is no special statute that regulates corruption. However, Section 37(1) of the PCA states that the provisions of the PCA apply to Singapore residents both inside and outside of Singapore where a citizen of Singapore commits an offense under the PCA in a location other than Singapore. As a result, outside of Singapore, bribery of foreign public authorities by a Singapore citizen will be a crime under the PCA. If the corruption occurs outside of Singapore, it will only be considered a crime if the perpetrator is a Singapore citizen.
There will also be a legislative review of the PCA, and it is possible that the PCA will be changed to strengthen its extraterritorial extent.
Regardless of the foregoing, if the corruption occurs in Singapore and involves a foreign public official, Section 5 (or perhaps Section 6) of the PCA applies to any Singapore resident who provides or accepts a bribe from that foreign public official.
Please see paragraph 1.2, which deals with foreign public officials’ corruption.
In the PCA, the term “foreign public official” is not defined. The PCA, on the other hand, covers all natural individuals, as well as companies, associations, or bodies of persons (corporate or incorporate), including foreign public officials.