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BP Singapore bunker trial: DPP proposes 92-month imprisonment sentence for guilty parties

07 Sep 2020

Editor: The following article was edited on Wednesday (9 September) for further accuracy with additional input from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Singapore bunker publication Manifold Times was present at the BP Singapore bunker trial on Monday (7 September). The following report represents a summarised extract of the morning’s hearing:

The BP Singapore bunker trial continued on Monday (7 September) morning at the State Courts of Singapore where District Judge Ong Chin Rhu heard recommendations for sentencing from the prosecution and defence counsels.

Judge Ong has earlier found the Executive Director of Pacific Prime Trading (PPT), Koh Seng Lee, and former Regional Marine Manager of BP Singapore, Clarence Chang each guilty of 20 charges under Section 6(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Cap 241., otherwise known as the Prevention of Corruption Act which is the primary anti-corruption law in Singapore.

DPP Jiang Ke-Yue and DPP Loh Hui-min recommended a 92-month imprisonment sentence for both Koh and Chang under a new sentencing framework for corruption offences.

Additionally, the Prosecution recommended that Chang be ordered to pay a total penalty of SGD 6.2 million (exact: SGD 6,220,095) under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), comprising the total bribe amount received of approximately SGD 6.4 million less SGD 182,500 returned to Koh.

The Prosecution noted that this case involves the highest amount of bribes received by a single person in the context of private sector corruption.

Chelva Retnam Rajah, Partner of Tan Rajah & Cheah, who represents Koh suggested 32 months imprisonment for his client.

Rajah noted BP Singapore did not suffer any monetary losses while PPT was a trading partner and continued using Koh’s services for a period of time after Chang left the company.

“There was no loss to BP. There was a gain to BP for 11 years they were the highest (sic) suppliers traders in the Singapore market,” he told the court.

“That was due to the fact they were able to have this system whereby they sold to Mr Koh at a price and bought it back from him.

“He [Koh] was able to manage his trading risk by his own […] as an oil trader. The prices at which Mr Koh bought from BP was not set by either him […] they were set by a separate group within BP. It was these prices that were offered to Mr Koh.

“There was a suggestion from the prosecution the prices offered were the ‘best prices’. Our response is the ‘best prices’ are prices set by the price setting group.”

Melanie Ho, Deputy Head of Specialist & Private Client Disputes Practice at WongPartnership, who represents Chang said 30 to 35 months imprisonment should be the appropriate sentence.

“What the prosecution tries to persuade is just because there are bribe monies involve there must be some compromises made,” she said.

“It doesn’t.

“There are such cases where the taker can continue to do the best for its principal despite the bribe monies. All that is done is Mr Koh making payments on the belief that our client [Chang] will be doing something for him. The something is not proven; there is no evidence and there is no case on it.”

She further notes there was no abuse of position and Chang did the best job for his principle.

“The fact that BP continued this business model with PPT still being the primary trading counterparty over four years after they knew PPT was being involved with CPIB investigations clearly shows the relationship and business model would not have affected BP,” she noted.

“In fact, it must have benefited BP, otherwise why would they continue?”

The Prosecution, in their response to submissions from the defence counsels, said they had adduced evidence of actual detriment suffered by BP through: (a) over concentration of business in a single counterparty, and (b) netting arrangements were implemented in a manner that favoured PPT over BP.

In addition, the Prosecution also stated that the case involved an insider in BP who was cultivated to favour a single supplier, a form of corruption which Chief Justice Menon had (in another case) described as ‘egregious’.

Judge Ong directed further submissions on the issue of enforcement of the penalty order, including the appropriate default imprisonment term should the penalty remain unpaid; the matter has been fixed for further mention in early November.

Editorial coverage by Manifold Times regarding earlier court sessions of the BP Singapore bunker bribery trial are organised in descending chronological order (latest to earliest) below:

Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Judge finds suspects guilty of corruption, sentencing in September
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial nears end as legal reps present summary submissions
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Last minute evidence surfaces at State Courts
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Former Ops Manager cross examined
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Cross examination of ex-Regional Marine Manager starts
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Former Market Manager takes to stand as witness
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Pacific Prime Trading Director cross examination continues
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Pacific Prime Trading Director undergoes cross examination
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Prosecution and Defence present submissions (Part 2)
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: Prosecution and Defence present submissions (Part 1)
Related: BP Singapore bunker bribery case update: BP bunker trade data in question
Related: BP Singapore bunker bribery case update: CPIB officer takes to the stand
Related: UPDATE: BP Singapore bunker bribery case
Related: BP Singapore bunker bribery case continues


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 7 September, 2020

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