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BP Singapore bunker trial: State Courts Judge to present sentencing verdict coming May

30 Mar 2021

Singapore bunker publication Manifold Times was present at the BP Singapore bunker trial on Monday (29 March). The following report represents a summarised extract of the morning’s hearing:

The BP Singapore bunker trial continued on Monday (29 March) morning at the State Courts of Singapore where District Judge Ong Chin Rhu heard recommendations for a revised sentencing framework for the accused parties.

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 19 charges under Section 6(b) and 6(a)  as well as 1 charge under s 5(b)(i) and 5(a)(i) 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.

In September 2020, DPP Jiang Ke-Yue and DPP Loh Hui-min had submitted for a 92-month imprisonment sentence for both Koh and Chang and proposed a new sentencing framework for corruption offences.

The latest hearing in late March saw both DPPs submitting on the application of a revised sentencing framework for corruption offences, which was recently pronounced by the High Court in Takaaki Masui v Public Prosecutor and another appeal and other matters [2020] SGHC 265 (known as the Masui sentencing framework).

Based on an application of the Masui sentencing framework, the global sentence that the Prosecution is seeking for Koh and Chang was reduced to 80 month’s imprisonment (from the earlier 92-month). The earlier total penalty of SGD 6.2 million (exact: SGD 6,220,095) that Prosecution is seeking against Chang remains unchanged.

To enforce the penalty, the DPPs asked Judge Ong to appoint a receiver to take possession of and realise Chang’s properties; or for Chang to otherwise serve an additional default sentence of 30 month’s imprisonment – which they hoped to avoid.

“Taking Chang’s last known gross monthly salary of $28,000 (assuming that he will be able to earn the same amount in the future), it will take him roughly 17 years to earn the penalty amount of S$6,220,095,” they stated in court documents obtained by Manifold Times from the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“In comparison, the maximum in-default imprisonment term which may be imposed is 30 months pursuant to s 319(1)(d)(i) CPC (being half of the maximum term of imprisonment fixed for the PCA offence).

“In the premises, the perverse incentive is clear and allowing Chang to ‘elect’ to serve the in-default imprisonment term would mean allowing his family and him to continue to be unjustly enriched by his criminal activities. It is thus submitted that an in-default imprisonment term should only be imposed as a measure of last resort.”

Megan Chia, Partner at Tan Rajah & Cheah, who represents Koh believed the development was unfair to her client.

“We submitted that BP has only something to gain and not something to loose. There is no evidence of BP losing anything,” she insisted.

Melanie Ho, Deputy Head of Specialist & Private Client Disputes Practice at WongPartnership, who represents Chang stated there was still no evidence of BP Singapore encountering any “actual loss” from its relationship with PPT.

“PPT already had staff authorised by BP who sat within the BP offices. This was approved from bottom to top and everyone knew. They had BP addresses, BP passes, and access to BP computers,” she said.

“Prior to all this, PPT was heading to be the top three trading counterparty of BP; so who benefits? Conversely, BP we say benefited. This was exactly what the lawyer for the first accused mentioned.

“If BP did not benefit there was absolutely no reason for them to continue business with PPT for five years. Your honour has heard the evidence […] logically will this conversation will be happening if there was detriment?”

The matter has been scheduled for hearing in May where Judge Ong will present the sentencing verdict.

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: Court hearing adjourned to late March 2021 [Short update]
Related: BP Singapore bunker trial: DPP proposes 92-month imprisonment sentence for guilty parties
RelatedBP Singapore bunker trial: Judge finds suspects guilty of corruption, sentencing in September
RelatedBP 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: 30 March, 2021

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