Singapore transport minister resigns over corruption charges

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Singapore’s transport minister has resigned his post after being charged with 27 offences in a corruption probe that has also ensnared a billionaire hotel tycoon.

S. Iswaran was arrested in July of 2023 and released on bail in connection with a rare top-level graft investigation in the city-state.

Iswaran, 61, said he would plead not guilty to the charges filed by the powerful Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau when he appeared in court on Thursday.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed shortly after Thursday’s hearing that Iswaran had submitted his resignation from the government, parliament and ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) on Jan. 16 after being given formal notice of the charges against him.

Iswaran has also pledged to return the money received as part of his salary and allowances since his arrest, Lee said.

“I reject the allegations in the charges and will now focus on clearing my name,” Iswaran wrote in his resignation letter, which was published on the website of the prime minister’s office.

Most of the charges against Iswaran relate to corruption, but he also faces one charge of obstruction of justice.

Among other accusations, he is alleged to have accepted tickets to high-profile sporting events and stage shows from hotel tycoon Ong Beng Seng, one of Singapore’s richest people.

Ong, the managing director of Hotel Properties Limited, was arrested the same day as Iswaran in 2023 and also released on bail.

Ong is credited with helping bring the Formula One Grand Prix to Singapore in 2008.

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will take a decision in respect of the investigations against Mr Ong and others, after the case against Mr S Iswaran has been completed,” the AGC said in a statement Thursday.

 

The graft investigation has gripped Singapore, a global financial hub reputed to be among the least corrupt countries in the world.

 

 

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