Ex-transport minister Iswaran seeks clarity on prosecutors’ handling of his criminal case


Former transport minister S. Iswaran arrived with his team of lawyers at the Supreme Court building at about 9.25am on May 8. - ST

SINGAPORE: Former transport minister S. Iswaran, who faces criminal charges involving more than S$400,000 worth of items, has filed an application to the High Court seeking clarity on the prosecution’s handling of the case against him.

He arrived with his team of lawyers at the Supreme Court building at about 9.25am on May 8.

His lawyer, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, is arguing the case before Justice Vincent Hoong, while the prosecution is represented by Deputy Attorney-General Tai Wei Shyong.

One issue mentioned by Singh is how the trial against Iswaran should proceed in relation to the two sets of charges that he faces – one relating to hotel and property tycoon Ong Beng Seng, and the other relating to David Lum Kok Seng, the managing director of mainboard-listed Lum Chang Holdings.

Singh questioned whether the charges should be tried separately or should they be tried jointly.

This is a developing story.

Iswaran currently faces a total of 35 criminal charges – 32 under Section 165 of the Penal Code, two for corruption and one for obstructing the course of justice.

Section 165 makes it an offence for a public servant to accept or obtain any valuable thing, for free or for inadequate payment, from any person connected with his official duties.

The value of the items involved in the Section 165 charges amounts to $237,015.89, while the total amount for the corruption charges come up to $166,282.03.

The 35 charges were brought against him on two separate occasions.

He was first handed 27 charges on Jan 18, 2024.

These include 24 counts of obtaining items with a total value of $218,058.95 from Ong between November 2015 and December 2021.

These items include tickets to the Singapore Formula One (F1) Grand Prix, as well as to football matches and musical shows in Britain.

Ong, who is chairman of race promoter Singapore GP, is credited with bringing the F1 race to Singapore.

The first set of charges also includes two counts of corruption for allegedly obtaining bribes amounting to $166,282.03 from Ong, as inducement for advancing the billionaire’s business interests in relation to agreements between Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board.

The items include Singapore F1 Grand Prix tickets, and a flight on Ong’s private plane.

A charge of obstructing the course of justice rounded off the first set of charges.

It was later announced that Iswaran had submitted his resignation from the People’s Action Party and stepped down as transport minister and West Coast GRC MP on Jan 16, 2024.

After he was charged, he issued a statement saying that he was innocent, adding that he will focus on clearing his name.

On March 25, 2024, Iswaran was handed eight more charges under Section 165.

This second set of charges relates to items with a total value of $18,956.94 that Iswaran allegedly obtained from Lum. Lum Chang Holdings is a mainboard-listed property management, interior design and construction company.

The items include bottles of whisky, golf clubs and a Brompton bicycle that cost $7,907.50.

They were allegedly obtained between November 2021 and November 2022, when Lum Chang’s subsidiary, Lum Chang Building Contractors, was dealing in the “addition and alteration works to existing Tanah Merah station and existing viaducts” with the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

LTA has said that it had not awarded any contract to Lum Chang Building Contractors since 2019.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers has said it will take a decision in respect of the investigations against Ong and Lum after the case against Iswaran has been completed. - The Straits Times/ANN

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