Sunday, December 31, 2017

PAP Continues to Fake Economic Growth Numbers

More lies from the ruling elites who are living in their own glory and totally out of touch with the people and who they are.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Unscrupulous Ministers To Be Paid 5.5 Months of Bonuses

Singaporeans will not be having much of a celebration for the New Year, no thanks to the pathetic bonus the middle class and poor are getting for 2017.
According to a state media interview with the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), Singapore workers in the private sector will likely receive an annual bonus as low as 0.5 month for 2017.
The pathetic 0.5 month bonus is only one-fifth of what the public sector’s 2.5 month bonus, and an eleventh fraction of 5.5 month bonus the Singapore Ministers are getting. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong alone will bag S$465,000, excluding his other bonus as Chairman of GIC.
Singapore Ministers are paid “National Bonus”, calculated off “social indicators” determined by the Public Service Division under the Prime Minister’s Office.
Below is an estimated calculation of how much bonus they are getting from taxpayers for 2017:
Real Median Income Growth Rate (2016): 2.6% -> 1 month bonus (100%)
Real Growth Rate of Lowest 20th Percentile Income (2016): 3.2% -> 1.5 month bonus (150%)
Unemployment rate of Singapore citizens (2017): 3.1% -> 2 month bonus (200%)
Real GDP Growth rate (2017) -> 3% -> 1 month bonus (100%)
Total: 5.5 month bonus
Singapore has one of the worst income inequality problem in the world, at a GINI coefficient of 0.458. At around 10% of the popuation, rich foreigners and the high income live in private property estates, while the remaining 90% rent from HDB public housing.
According to a demographic survey conducted by the government earlier this month, the survey found that Singapore’s rich and “elites” do not interact with the middle or poor. A key indicator of social class is the school one goes to, where neighbourhood schools for the masses are shabbily treated when compared to the elite schools of Raffles Institution and Anglo-Chinese High.
Class divides have resulted in political divisions, with most of the rich and high income middle class forming the major support base of the incumbent party PAP. The poorer population is however divided, with many depending on the ruling party for crumbs-like social support. The poor fear voting against the ruling party as they believe they will be denied government assistance, since the Prime Minister controls the Election Department. Fortunately, as the population gets poorer, more Singaporeans are coming out to oppose the dictatorship after realising that they have nothing more to lose.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Latest SMRT Corruption Scandal 2017

In a media release today, three employees with Singapore state-owned public transport operator SMRT were found to have engaged in corruption by awarding S$9.8 million worth of contracts to a company where they have vested interests. From SMRT, line manager Zulkifli Marwi, 52, former manager Jamalludin Jumari, 61, and assistant engineer Zakaria Mohamed Shariff, 59, were revealed to have conspired to award various contracts ranging from S$3,700 to S$3.9 million to a company called Enovation Industries.

The fourth person to be charged is the director of Enovation Industries, Akbar Ali Tambishahib, 60. One of the four guilty, Jamalludin Jumari, absconded and left Singapore in 2013, but was found in Malaysia and extradited to face charges in Singapore.

CPIB made the announcement without explaining how did the contract award process resulted in the corruption:

“Three of them were each charged with four counts of conspiring with each other to cheat SMRT Trains by dishonestly concealing the fact that they had an interest in Enovation Industries (EI), resulting in SMRT being deceived into awarding contracts worth S$3,900,000 to EI. Jamalludin absconded in 2013, but was found recently in Malaysia and brought back to Singapore to face charges. The CPIB had worked closely with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission who acted expeditiously on our request for assistance.”

The four accused face up to 10 years jail and a fine.

This is the second high profile corruption case involving state-owned companies in recent months, following the conviction of Keppel. Keppel was fined S$567 million for bribery in Brazil.

Singaporeans charged over $7 mn metro scandal

Four Singaporean men were Friday charged over a scandal involving contracts for the metro worth almost Sg$10 million ($7.4 million), the latest problem to hit the financial hub's train network.
The prosecution of the group, which included former and current employees of metro operator SMRT, came after a series of breakdowns on the train system and a collision that injured dozens.
The accidents have caused anger in the city-state where public transport is usually efficient and most have to rely on buses and trains as car prices are among the highest in the world.
Three of the four men caught up in the latest scandal failed to disclose their interest in two engineering companies which had been awarded contracts from SMRT totalling Sg$9.8 million, the anti-corruption bureau said.
The offences allegedly happened between 2007 and 2012, the bureau said, adding that the men have been charged under a law that prohibits cheating.
Two of the men, Jamalludin bin Jumari, 61, and Zakaria bin Mohamed Shariff, 52, are former employees of SMRT and face 28 charges each.
Zulkifli bin Marwi, 52, still works at the rail company as a line manager and faces 24 charges. Akbar Ali bin Tambishahib, 59, a director of the companies awarded the contracts, faces 28 charges.
If convicted, they face up to 10 years jail on each charge.
"The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau takes a serious view of any corrupt practices and will not hesitate to take action against any party involved in such acts," the bureau said in a statement.
In October, rail services on a main line were stopped for 20 hours when an underground tunnel flooded. Last month, 36 people were injured in a train collision.
State investment giant Temasek took full ownership of SMRT last year, delisting it from the Singapore stock exchange, in a bid to overhaul the company.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Keppel Corruption Scandal

In a press release by the Singapore authorities on Saturday (Dec 23), Singapore’s state-owned company Keppel Offshore and Marine (Keppel O&M) was fined S$567 million (US$422 million) for bribery corruption in exchange of several projects in Brazil. The fine will be distributed to three governments in the following shares: Brazil 50%, US 25% and Singapore 25%.

The US Department of Justice uncovered the Singapore corruption where Keppel made a total of S$472 million (US$351.8 million):
“Investigations showed the payments were made between 2001 and 2014 to officials of Brazilian state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras). This was in order to win contracts with Petrobras and/or its related companies. KOM concealed these corrupt payments by paying commissions to an intermediary, under the guise of legitimate consulting agreements, who then made payments for the benefit of officials of Petrobras and other parties.”
According to court papers, a Brazilian agent made several undisclosed bribes representing Keppel to secure engineering projects with Brazil’s state-owned company. Keppel initially denied that they were involved but investigations from the US Department of Justice found that 5 Singaporean Keppel executives were involved.
The 5 Singaporean executives of Keppel have their identities covered up, there is no information provided to the public by Singapore’s Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Corruption Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).


Lee Boon Yang

Singapore’s state-backed corporate heavyweights – collectively known as “Singapore Inc” – will face tough questions in 2018 on their commitment to the Lion City’s vaunted anti-corruption ethos, observers say, as a shocked public comes to grips with a graft scandal that has engulfed oil rig builder Keppel Corp.

One political observer went as far as to describe 2017 as “annus horribilis” for the city state’s corporate sector. That sentiment echoed the hand-wringing among government critics that followed last week’s announcement by US prosecutors that Keppel’s offshore and marine arm, Keppel O&M, agreed to pay a US$422 million settlement to avoid a criminal trial for bribing Brazilian officials.

Keppel O&M, according to court documents released by the US justice department, engaged in a scheme between 2001 and 2014 to pay US$55 million in bribes to win 13 contracts with Petrobas and Sete Brasil – two Brazilian oil companies deeply mired in the country’s wide-ranging Operation Car Wash graft scandal. Keppel O&M is the world’s biggest builder of oil rigs.

The US$55 million topped the nearly US$19 million in bribes that were involved at a scandal at state-linked shipbuilder Singapore Technologies Marine, making it the biggest corruption case to hit one of the so-called Singapore Inc companies linked to state sovereign wealth firm Temasek Holdings.

The case – which culminated this year with seven people including the company’s former president being jailed – had already raised worries over whether the Lion City was slipping in its intolerance for graft.

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The country’s squeaky clean image, buttressed by its high rankings in international anti-corruption indices, had already taken a beating when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in July was forced to emphatically refute allegations of nepotism and abuse of power levelled by his own siblings.

Local political observer Eugene Tan said the latest case raised “serious questions about the Singapore corporate sector’s commitment to anti-corruption and ethical business dealings.”

“Given the scale and the length of illicit dealings, it raises legitimate questions of corporate governance, board leadership and stewardship,” said Tan, a law professor at the Singapore Management University.

“The scandal caps a year where Singapore’s branding, reputation and integrity have been negatively impacted. 2017 has been Singapore’s annus horribilis.”

Online, questions were swirling over contradictory statements Keppel O&M had made on its involvement in the scandal. When reports of the probe first broke in 2016, Keppel O&M denied any of its executives authorised bribes paid by its Brazilian agent Zwi Skornicki.

But in its statement following the December 22 settlement, the company acknowledged the US justice department findings that the corrupt payments were “made with knowledge or approval” of former executives.

Also under scrutiny were court documents that showed the settlement was reached after one of Keppel O&M’s lawyers cut a deal with the justice department and cooperated with investigations.

The case was resolved without trial because Keppel O&M agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution settlement, while its US subsidiary pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Singapore’s attorney general’s chambers and anti corruption agency said the settlement was part of a “global resolution”, and that local authorities had served the company a “conditional warning” in lieu of prosecution given the substantial cooperation it had rendered during investigations. Investigations into individuals involved in the case “are ongoing,” the two agencies said in a statement.

Pritam Singh, one of six lawmakers from the opposition Workers’ Party in the 89-seat legislature, said on Facebook that he was “most surprised” the two agencies did not provide “any substantive information on this scandal” apart from its media statement.

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The opposition party was planning to quiz Lee and finance minister Heng Swee Keat when parliament next sits on January 8, Singh wrote on Friday, describing the development as “what must be one of the largest corruption scandals in the history of Singapore’s government linked companies”.

Elsewhere, political blogger Andrew Loh said questions remained on why the company’s top brass – including its chairman Lee Boon Yang – were not aware of the extent of the graft.

Lee is a former cabinet minister and concurrently holds the chairmanship of Singapore Press Holdings, the publisher of The Straits Times newspaper.

The court documents said the bribes were paid between 2001 and 2014. Lee Boon Yang took over as chairman in 2009. His predecessor, Lim Chee Onn, also a former minister, helmed the company from 2000 to 2008.

“If the chairman and CEO and the board did not know, then they must be grossly incompetent,” Loh wrote.

Jeffrey Chow, the former Keppel lawyer who pleaded guilty, had reportedly said in his plea hearing that he became aware of the graft when he drafted contracts with a company agent who was being overpaid by millions of dollars.

“I should have refused to draft the contract that we used for paying bribes and I should have resigned from Keppel,” Chow said, according to a Reuters report quoting court transcripts.

The deferred prosecution agreement published on the US justice department website said Keppel O&M received “full credit for its substantial cooperation” into the investigations.

Among other things, seven employees implicated in the saga were “separated” from the company, and it imposed some US$8.9 million in “financial sanctions” on 12 former or current employees, the documents said. The US$422 million settlement will be distributed between the US, Brazil and Singapore.

A Keppel O&M spokesman told This Week in Asia the company was “deeply disappointed” by the saga, and had taken steps to make sure it would not happen again.

Still, it will take time for Lion City to restore its pristine international reputation left tarnished by 2017, observers say. “Keppel’s conduct smears the Singapore brand and suggests Singapore is not exceptional at all. It owes Singaporeans an apology,” said Tan, the law professor.

Monday, December 18, 2017

S$40 million PAP SkillsFuture Scandal

A 41-year-old man has been hauled to court over his alleged involvement in Singapore's largest case of a public institution being defrauded to date, involving nearly $40 million.

The government agency involved is SkillsFuture Singapore, which promotes a culture of lifelong learning.

On Tuesday (Dec 19), Ng Cheng Kwee was charged with three counts of intentionally perverting the course of justice.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting told the court that a criminal syndicate could be involved and Ng is believed to be one of the main perpetrators.

Before this, Ng was charged with one count of engaging in a conspiracy to commit forgery.

He was also charged with concealing benefits of criminal conduct - namely $6.7 million in cash and 11kg of gold worth about $600,000.

Ng is said to have committed these offences between April and last month.

Four other people have also been charged over their alleged involvement in the case.

In a statement on Tuesday, SkillsFuture Singapore said it detected anomalies in claims for training grants at the end of October.

It immediately suspended all payments of grants to nine business entities and reported the matter to the police.

Following this incident, SkillsFuture Singapore said it has taken immediate action to tighten its processes, including implementing fraud analytics, while conducting a comprehensive review of the system.

"(SkillsFuture Singapore) takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation that abuses its funding schemes, and will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene its funding rules and guidelines," said the agency.

Ng is now remanded at Central Police Division and will be back in court on Dec 26.

Five suspected members of a criminal syndicate have been charged with a series of offences, which resulted in close to S$40 million in fraudulent claims being paid out by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

In a news release on Tuesday (Dec 19), SSG said the offences include “engaging in a conspiracy to submit forged documents to fraudulently obtain training subsidies from SSG, and to conceal the benefits from such criminal conduct.”

Police seized substantial cash and froze a number of bank accounts involved in the case, the release added.

“Preliminary police investigation reveals that the criminal syndicate behind these fraudulent claims operated an organised network that utilised nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit the fraudulent claims.”

SSG said it detected anomalies in claims for training grants at the end of October 2017 and immediately suspended all payments of grants to the nine business entities and reported the case to the police.

It added that it has taken immediate actions to tighten processes, which include implementing fraud analytics, while conducting a comprehensive review of the system.

SSG takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation that abuses its funding schemes, and will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene its funding rules and guidelines,” the release added.

Police investigations are ongoing.