SINGAPORE (Apr 9): Less than three months after Keppel Corp announced a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that will see it pay more than US$422 million ($555 million) in fines for its involvement in a Brazilian bribery scandal, lawmakers in Singapore have passed legislation that will make it possible for similar action to be taken here against such errant companies.

“[The] speed at which DPAs came into being... did surprise me a little, as I had thought that the DPA provisions would be something deserving of a public consultation process,” says Eunice Chua, assistant professor of law at the Singapore Management University (SMU). As the term suggests, DPAs essentially allow companies to avoid prosecution if they comply with certain conditions. These could include implementing a compliance programme or co-operating with investigations. It could also include penalties such as fines that can exceed the statutory maximum under existing criminal laws.

In December, Keppel Offshore & Marine entered into a DPA with the US DOJ in relation to a charge of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to documents made available by the DOJ, based on the appropriate “offence level” and “culpability score”, the fine would have ranged from just under US$563 million to more than US$1.1 billion. The fine of more than US$422 million that Keppel paid was a 25% discount off the bottom of the fine range because of its substantial co-operation with the investigation and for taking extensive remedial measures, according to the DOJ. If Keppel had been prosecuted under Singapore’s criminal laws, it would have been liable for a fine of up to only $100,000.

To continue reading,

Sign in to access this Premium article.

Subscription entitlements:

Less than $9 per month
3 Simultaneous logins across all devices
Unlimited access to latest and premium articles
Bonus unlimited access to online articles and virtual newspaper on The Edge Malaysia (single login)

Stay updated with Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram | Facebook