A former eastern regional director for Marine Fuels with BP Singapore, Clarence Chang Peng Hong, this week was sentenced to 54 months in prison for receiving bribes and was also ordered to pay a penalty of around S$6.2 million (US$4.64 million).

Koh Seng Lee, executive director of bunker company Pacific Prime Trading (PPT), who had given the bribes, was also sentenced to 54 months’ imprisonment for corruption.

District Judge Ong Chin Rhu last July convicted Chang and Koh for offences punishable under sections 5 and 6 of Singapore’s Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 241.

The judge found that Chang had suggested that Koh set up PPT to be a trading counterparty of BP, on “the understanding that Chang would advance the business interest of PPT with BP and would therefore be entitled to payments in return”.

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Between July 2006 and July 2010, Koh gave a total of US$3.95 million to Chang and also corruptly agreed to give Chang S$500,000 ($375,000) as a form of investment in a franchise education business which Chang’s wife was involved in.

“Singapore adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. Any person who is convicted of a corruption offence can be fined up to S$100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or to both,” said Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

“Any person who is convicted of accepting gratification can also be ordered to pay a penalty, which is a sum equal to the amount of that gratification.

Chang will face an additional 28-month imprisonment term if he does not pay the penalty.

Duo to appeal sentences

Koh and Chang both intend to appeal their sentences and a pre-trial hearing has been set for 24 June.

The ex-BP official separately faces money laundering offences punishable under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

It was alleged that he had transferred nearly S$4.7 million of corrupt proceeds from a HSBC account in Hong Kong to a POSB Bank Singapore account and two other HSBC Singapore accounts and converted nearly S$4 million — which in whole or in part, were direct or indirect benefits of corrupt proceeds — to acquire three private landed properties and two condominiums.

“Any person who is convicted of a money laundering offence can be fined up to S$500,000 or sentenced to imprisonment for up to seven years or to both,” noted the CPIB.

The money laundering charges had been stood down for the purpose of his corruption trial and will be dealt with subsequently.

“To avoid falling victim to dishonest practices by rogue employees seeking personal gains, companies are strongly advised to put in place robust procedures in areas such as procurement and internal audit,” added the CPIB.

Companies can refer to guidance on measures to prevent corruption and “are strongly” encouraged” to obtain certification on anti-bribery management systems, said the bureau.

Singapore is one of the least corrupt nations in the world, ranking joint third in Transparency International's 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Upstream has reached out to BP for comment.