"Companies should implement and
regularly update a Code of Conduct
and appropriate financial controls in
relation to gifts, expenses, corporate
hospitality and anti-bribery compliance
generally. In contrast to the UK, the
existence of and compliance with a
Code of Conduct or any adequate
compliance procedure is not a
defence in Singapore, in and of itself.
Nevertheless, it is still a valuable tool
to mitigate bribery risks."
1. What is bribery?
Singapore’s main anti-bribery legislation, the
Prevention of Corruption Act (“PCA”) covers
both public and private bribery and targets
both recipients and givers of bribes. The PCA
defines a bribe by reference to the term
“gratification”, which broadly covers both
financial and non-financial benefits.
The PCA prohibits any person (whether
independently or in conjunction with any other
person) from corruptly:
- giving, promising or offering; or
- soliciting, receiving, agreeing to receiving,
- any gratification as an inducement to or
reward for or otherwise on account of:
- any person doing or forbearing to do
anything in respect of any matter or
transaction (whether actual or proposed); or
- any member, officer or servant of a public
body doing or forbearing to do anything
in respect of any matter or transaction
(whether actual or proposed), in which such
a public body is concerned.
The term “person” covers companies as well as
There is no de minimus threshold.
The PCA also creates specific offences for
corrupt dealings by or with agents in relation
to their principal’s affairs or business. It also
provides that in any case where gratification is
given to or received by a public official, the
gratification is deemed to have been given or
received corruptly as an inducement or reward
unless the contrary is proved. The PCA has
some extra-territorial application.
In addition, Singapore’s Penal Code creates
a number of specific offences that relate to
bribery of “public servants”.
2. What are the
There are no exceptions or defences. Unlike
the UK Bribery Act, adequate compliance
procedures are not a defence. There is also no
exemption for facilitation payments.
The PCA expressly states that evidence that
any gratification is customary in any profession,
trade, vocation or calling is inadmissible in any
civil or criminal proceedings under the PCA. For
example, the fact that the giving or receiving of
“red packets” for Chinese New Year is
customary in Singapore is not, of itself, a
defence to the giving or receipt of such a gift
being found to be an offence.
3. What are the sanctions?
Under the PCA, penalties are either or both of a
fine not exceeding SGD 100,000 and
imprisonment for a term not exceeding five
years (for private sector bribery offences) or
seven years (for public sector bribery offences).
In addition, section 13 of the PCA provides that
where a person has accepted any gratification
in contravention of the PCA, the Court can
impose a penalty equal to the amount of the
gratification or the value of the gratification (if
valuation is possible).
Further, section 14 of the PCA provides that
where any gratification has been given by any
person to an agent in contravention of the PCA,
the principal may recover the amount or the
value of the gratification as a civil debt either
from the agent or from the person who gave
the gratification to the agent. This statutory
entitlement does not affect any other rights of
recovery which the principal may have at law. In
the civil case of Leong Wai Kay v Carrefour
Singapore Pte Ltd  3 SLR 78, a manager
of a multi-national company who was
convicted of bribery offences had to pay the
quantum of the gratification he received twice
– approximately SGD 300,000 as a penalty to
the state (plus a custodial sentence) pursuant
to a criminal proceeding, and SGD 300,000 to
the multi-national company as a civil debt. The
Court held that the PCA provided for two
distinct proceedings – a criminal proceeding to
disgorge the bribes and a civil proceeding to
recover the bribes.
Under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and
Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits)
Act, confiscation orders may also be made
against a person convicted of bribery offences
in respect of benefits derived from that person’s
bribery offences. When assessing the value of
such benefits, the Court will have regard to any
order made under section 13 of the PCA and
leave out of account the benefits that were
taken into account under that order.
Under the Penal Code, penalties are either or
both of a fine and imprisonment for a term
ranging from one to three years.
More from the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Guide:
Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.
King & Wood Mallesons LLP is a foreign law practice and is not qualified to advise on the laws of Singapore. This publication is intended to highlight potential issues and provide general information based on our understanding, and not to provide legal advice. You should not take, or refrain from taking, action based on its content. If you have any questions, please speak to your King & Wood Mallesons contact.