01/18/2024, 15.09
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Singapore's Transport Minister charged with corruption

by Angeline Tan

Subramaniam Iswaran is facing 27 charges, including receiving tickets to sporting events like the Singapore F1 Grand Prix from tycoon Ong Beng Seng in exchange for favours. The case could have consequences for the 2025 parliamentary elections.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – Singapore's anti-corruption watchdog announced that Transport Minister Subramaniam Iswaran, better known as S. Iswaran, has been charged with corruption.

The 61-year-old Iswaran, who was first elected to parliament in 1997, is accused of taking bribes worth S5,000 (US$ 285,000) from property tycoon Ong Beng Seng to further his interests.

The now former minister allegedly received other favours from Ong as well, between 2015 and 2021, such as tickets to football matches, musicals, and the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix through Ong’s Como Holdings (UK) and Singapore GP. Ong owns the rights to the race.

Iswaran was indicted on 27 charges, including corruption and obstruction of justice, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) stated.

If convicted, he could be fined up to S0,000 (US$ 75,000) or face seven years in prison.

In July, Ong Beng Seng was also arrested, but immediately released on bail. At present, he has not been indicted.

In his letter of resignation, Iswaran denies all charges, and in court, he pleaded "Not guilty".  The now former minister currently remains free on bail set at S0,000 (US$ 595,000).

"I am innocent and will now focus on clearing my name,” he said. “These past months have been most difficult for my family and me," he explained.

Earlier, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong told reporters that the government would handle the issue decisively, because "the PAP (People’s Action Party) stance on corruption is non-negotiable, this is part of our DNA,” he added. Iswaran has been with the party since the late 1990s.

Singapore is the fourth global financial centre and is the second most densely populated country in the world after the Principality of Monaco. The corruption scandal involving Iswaran is quite exceptional.

Still, the case could have consequences for the ruling People's Action Party, which has governed the country continuously since 1965, especially with parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2025.

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