S Iswaran Back in Singapore & Has Surrendered His Passport

Former transport Minister S. Iswaran has returned to Singapore after being discharged from a hospital in Melbourne. He is facing 27 charges of corruption and had been out on a S$800,000 bail.

The 61-year-old was required to return to Singapore by 19 March 2024.

Iswaran has surrendered his passport, said the Attorney General Chambers (AGC) in response to queries made by The Straits Times reporters.

Iswaran was slated to be in Australia from 16 February 2024 to 4 March 2024 to help his son enrol into University in Australia. For this to happen, several conditions were imposed, including an additional S$500,000 to his cash bail, making the total amount to S$1.3 million.

However, complications happened and the former Minister fell ill and was subsequently admitted to Private Hospital Cabrini Malvern for a respiratory illness.

Since he was advised by his doctor not to travel for 12 days following his discharge from the hospital on 5 March 2024, Iswaran was granted permission to stay outside of Singapore for another 16 days.

However, this was under the condition that he had to report to the police investigation officer daily via video call, and provide updates on his medical condition and whether there were any issues concerning his return to Singapore on 19 March 2024.

Following this, Iswaran’s case has been transferred to the High Court; he is slated to attend a chamber hearing on 2 April 2024.

If you don’t know what a chamber hearing is, it’s when evidence is generally presented in the form of affidavits, which are written statements between the prosecution and defendant.

How It All Started

These 27 cases were handed to Iswaran on 18 January 2024, six months after Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) announced that they had launched a string of investigations on him and tycoon property agent Ong Beng Seng. 

Iswaran pleaded not guilty to all 27 charges and resigned as Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament and as a member of the People’s Action Party, citing that he “believed it was the right thing to do.” 

After rejecting the allegations made against him, Iswaran said that he “was innocent and [would] [then] focus on clearing [his] name.”

Need A Recap? What Are These Charges?

The 27 charges include:

Two counts of corruption for receiving bribes from billionaire Ong Beng Seng.

One of these counts refers to Iswaran flying Ong Beng Seng’s private plane from Singapore to Doha in December 2022, the total value of which is estimated to be S$10,410.10.

Afterwards, Iswaran allegedly stayed at Four Seasons Doha for one night through Singapore Grand Prix Pte Ltd, which was worth S$4,737.63. Subsequently, he returned to Singapore via a business class flight also through Singapore Grand Prix Pte Ltd, which was valued at S$5,700.

The other count refers to 10 Green Room tickets worth S$48,150, 8 Twenty3, which are worth S$56,068, and 32 general admission tickets worth S$41,216 to the F1 Grand Prix event held in Singapore that year.

This is alleged to be as inducement in relation to advancing Ong’s interests in matters relating to a contract between Singapore GP and STB, as well as a proposed contract with STB to establish the ABBA Voyage virtual concert in Singapore, according to The Business Times.

24 counts of allegedly receiving valuables from Ong Beng Seng as a public servant; these valuables consist mostly of musical theatre, football, and the F1 Singapore Grand Prix tickets.

All the items in total have a value of more than S$200,000 and happened between November 2015 and December 2021.

One count of obstructing the course of justice by repaying Singapore Grand Prix Pte Ltd the S$5,700 for his business flight back from Doha. Supposedly, he did this knowing that it would obstruct the course of justice.

The offence of obstructing the course of justice under Section 204A(a) of the Penal Code 1871 carries an imprisonment term of up to seven years or a fine, or both. 

Any person who is convicted of a corruption offence under Section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act can be fined up to S$100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or both.