- The Ministry of Law would like to point out that the Facebook post and X (formerly known as “Twitter”) post published on 18 August 2023 by Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam contain false statements of fact.
False statements of fact
- First, the Facebook and X posts make the statement that the arrests of 10 foreign nationals on 15 August 2023 for forgery and money laundering offences were a result of China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi and China’s pressure on Singapore.
This is untrue.
- As stated in the Police News Release dated 16 August 2023 (“Ten Foreign Nationals To Be Charged For Offences Including Forgery And Money Laundering With An Estimated Value Of About One Billion In Cash And Various Assets Seized, Frozen Or Issued With Prohibition Of Disposal Orders”), the Police had identified the suspects through intelligence probes and extensive investigations including the analysis of Suspicious Transaction Reports. These operations and the planning of the arrests had been in the works over many months. They were not at the behest or because of any foreign party. No foreign parties had been informed of these cases before the arrests.
- Second, the Facebook post makes the statement that the CPIB probe into Minister S Iswaran and Mr Ong Beng Seng was a result of foreign pressure. This is also untrue.
- CPIB was investigating a separate matter, and came across some information concerning Minister Iswaran. It then looked into the matter.
- CPIB’s investigation into Minister Iswaran and Mr Ong Beng Seng was not due to foreign pressure.
- These facts were stated publicly on multiple occasions, including:
- PM’s and Minister Chan Chun Sing’s statements in Parliament on 2 August 2023.
- CPIB’s Press Release dated 12 July 2023.
- PM’s statement dated 12 July 2023, and DPM’s doorstop interview on 12 July 2023.
- Third, the Facebook post makes the statement that the rental rates paid by Minister K Shanmugam and Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for 26 and 31 Ridout Road, respectively, are locked in over nine years. This is untrue.
- The rental rates paid by the Ministers for the Ridout properties were not locked in over nine years. The tenancies are renewable every two / three years, and the rentals are likewise to be reviewed, based on prevailing market value. When the tenancies of the two properties were up for renewal after the initial three years, a revaluation was carried out by professional valuers to peg the rentals to the prevailing market rate. This valuation was based on market comparables.
- The property at 26 Ridout Road was renewed in June 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, for three years with the rent maintained at $26,500 per month.
- The property at 31 Ridout Road was renewed in October 2022 for three years with the rent increased to $20,000 per month, from $19,000 per month.
- These facts were stated in publicly available materials, including:
- The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) report dated 23 June 2023 and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean’s review report dated 26 June 2023, as subsequently reiterated and explained at the 3 July Parliament sitting during the Ministerial Statements and subsequent clarifications.
- More information on the facts relating to the rental of 26 Ridout Road and 31 Ridout Road can be found in the Official Report (Hansard) for the Parliament sitting on 3 July 2023
- The Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong, has instructed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act Office to issue a Correction Direction to Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam in respect of his Facebook post and X post.
- In the same Facebook post, Mr Jeyaretnam alleged that “it took proof from German courts about F1’s Ecclestone paying bribes and a UK HMRC investigation into his tax issues involving a Singapore bank, for the bank to be overhauled and three other Singapore financial institutions with it.”
- These assertions are untrue. Earlier this month, DPM Lawrence Wong had provided information on the facts, in response to Parliamentary Questions 4899 and 4938. His response can be found in the Official Report (Hansard) for the Parliament sitting on 2 August 2023. We highlight the following:
- First, Singapore proactively shared information with the UK authorities, to help them develop their case against Mr Bernie Ecclestone. As early as 2017, MAS conducted an inspection of the bank cited in recent media reports, to assess its controls for mitigating money laundering and terrorist financing risks. This was about five years before Mr Ecclestone was eventually charged by the UK authorities in 3Q 2022.
- Second, while MAS found that there was room for improvement in the bank’s anti-money laundering processes, it did not find gaps or weaknesses that were systemic in nature. MAS also noted that when adverse news about Mr Ecclestone first surfaced in 2013, the bank promptly subjected the account to enhanced monitoring controls by requiring all transactions to be flagged for scrutiny and approval.
- The bank addressed the specific areas identified for improvement as required. This did not amount to an “overhaul” which in the ordinary meaning of the word, would suggest that a thorough remake, renewal or revision had been necessary.
- Members of the public are advised not to speculate, spread unverified rumours, and/or exaggerate facts.
A Correction Direction is a Direction issued to a person who has communicated a falsehood (i.e. the recipient) that affects the public interest. It requires the recipient to publish a correction notice, providing access to the correct
facts. The Direction does not require the recipient to take down their post or make edits to their content and does not impose criminal sanctions.