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BP Singapore bunker trial: Judge finds suspects guilty of corruption, sentencing in September

16 Jul 2020

Manifold Times was present at the BP Singapore bunker trial on Thursday (16 July). The following report represents a summarised extract of the afternoon’s hearing:

The BP Singapore bunker trial continued on Thursday (16 July) afternoon at the State Courts of Singapore where District Judge Ong Chin Rhu presented an oral judgement of the case.

The latest hearing saw Judge Ong finding the Executive Director of Pacific Prime Trading (PPT), Koh Seng Lee, and former Regional Marine Manager of BP Singapore, Clarence Chang to be 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*.

Nineteen charges were related to the transfer of monies from Koh to Chang from about 31 July 2006 to 26 July 2010 to advance the business interest of PPT with BP Singapore Pte Ltd.

The 20th charge related to payments for Mindchamps Preschool @ City Square Pte Ltd from Koh to Chang sometime before September 2009 as an inducement to advance the business interest of PPT with BP.

Judge Ong, in her oral judgement, noted Koh transferred sums of money totalling USD 3.95 million from his personal HSBC account to Chang’s personal bank account, while Chang transferred a portion of the monies to various bank accounts in Singapore which were solely owned by himself or jointly owned with his wife.

“A central issue at trial was the purpose of these payments and whether they were tainted,” she stated.

“The prosecution case is these payments to Mr Koh and Mr Chang was for continuing PPT’s business interest with BP. The defence states these transfers were not corrupt and they were for investments for properties, the Mindchamps business and other businesses.”

She observed Chang and Koh being called by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to explain the purpose of payments, where it was found Chang suggested to Koh to set up PPT to be a trading counterparty of BP.

There was also an understanding Chang will help PPT; Chang regarded himself as a partner in PPT and the money transfers from Koh to Chang were described by Chang as his share of profit as a partner of PPT, she said, amongst other observations.

“I have carefully studied and considered the submissions […] I found the CPIB have accurately captured the statements which Mr Koh and Mr Chang conveyed to the recording officer. I found these statements reveal the true purpose of the transfers (sic),” said the Judge.

“I found their account [explanations] for the joint accounts and transfers as an afterthought. They did not reveal these details to CPIB […] it was rather telling Mr Koh and Mr Chang’s statements contained various glaring contradictions and inconsistencies of the joint investment. Especially [for] the properties in the joint investment project.”

She declares: “After consideration, I am satisfied they [the prosecution] have proceeded charges beyond reasonable doubt. I find them [Koh and Chang] guilty and convicted of the same.”

The bails of Koh and Chang have been extended; they are expected to face sentencing in September, 2020.

*A person convicted of an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) shall be liable to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both, for each count of corruption, according to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) website.

Under Section 13 of the PCA, when a corrupt offender is convicted, the Court shall also order him to pay a penalty equivalent to the amount of bribes he received. 

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

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 16 July, 2020

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