Singapore's Anti-corruption Bureau Mum on Kickback Case

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Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) declined to say whether it has opened an investigation following allegations of an elaborate kickback scheme that involved an Apple employee and at least six Apple suppliers, including three Singaporean companies.

U.S. authorities have charged former Apple employee Paul Shin Devine, a U.S. citizen, and Andrew Ang, a former employee of Singapore's Jin Li Mould Manufacturing and a Singaporean citizen, for their alleged involvement in the scheme, which involved trading confidential information about Apple's product plans and supplier prices in exchange for payments of more than US$1 million.

"CPIB is unable to comment on the case against Paul Shin Devine and Andrew Ang as it is currently handled by the U.S. authorities," CPIB spokeswoman Tan Chai Ying wrote in an e-mail response to questions about whether the Singaporean government is also investigating the alleged kickback scheme.

"The Singapore government takes a strong stance against corruption. CPIB will look into all information received in regard to corruption offences and take necessary action against the parties involved if evidence is found," she wrote.

Under Singapore's anti-corruption law, company employees and others can be prosecuted for corruption if they give, solicit or receive bribes and kickbacks. In addition, CPIB has the power to carry out searches and arrest suspects in corruption cases.

While the indictment filed against Devine and Ang in the U.S. does not name the suppliers alleged to have been involved in the scheme, the six companies -- including three based in Singapore -- are named in a civil suit that Apple brought against Devine over the alleged kickback scheme.

The civil suit claims Devine received "illicit payments, kickbacks, bribes and other things of value" from Jin Li Mould Manufacturing, Glocom/Lateral Solutions and Fastening Technologies, as well three other companies based outside Singapore, for access to confidential information about Apple's product plans and competitor pricing information that helped them win contracts from Apple on favorable terms.

On Monday, Jin Li Mould Manufacturing CEO Andric Ng declined to comment on the allegations against his company. Glocom/Lateral Solutions and Fastening Technologies could not immediately be reached for comment. Devine pleaded innocent to the charges in a U.S. court on Monday.

In a region where corruption is a persistent issue, Singapore stands out as being relatively free of the problem. Transparency International ranked Singapore third on its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks countries and territories with the lowest perceived public-sector corruption.

The U.S. ranked 19th in the survey, while the only other two Asian markets that appeared in the top 20 were Hong Kong, which ranked 12th, and Japan, which tied the U.K. for the 17th spot.

Singapore's closest neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, ranked 56th and 111th in the Transparency International rankings, respectively.

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