SINGAPORE: Beleaguered former Transport Minister S Iswaran has been allowed to leave the country to help his son settle in at a university in Australia.
Meanwhile, Mr Iswaran’s case will be moved to the High Court, with the prosecution giving strong public interest as the reason for the transfer.
The Straits Times (ST) reported that Mr Iswaran appeared at the State Courts around 2:30 pm on Thursday (Feb 8) to apply to be allowed to leave the jurisdiction.
The prosecution gave several conditions in the matter, which included a cash bail of S$500,000. He also needs to give his itinerary and address in Australia to the investigation officer and stay contactable. Mr Iswaran is required to hand in his travel documents within 24 hours of his return.
On Jan 18, Mr Iswaran was slapped with 27 charges, including corruption charges. He has maintained his innocence and says that he will clear his name.
Having been placed on leave for the second half of 2023, he also told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a letter of his decision to return the salary and MP allowance during that time since he had been unable to fulfil his duties.
Mr Iswaran added that he would not endeavour to reverse this decision should he be acquitted.
He is currently out on S$800,000 bail.
ST added that Mr Navin Shanmugaraj Thevar, one of the lawyers representing Mr Iswaran, has asked for an early trial for him so that “evidence can be fully aired and the matter decided as soon as possible”.
On March 22, a criminal case disclosure conference for his case will be held in the High Court.
The former minister faces two charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, one charge of obstruction of justice, and 24 charges of obtaining a valuable thing as a public servant related to having allegedly accepted from billionaire hotelier Ong Beng Seng “valuable things” worth more than S$384,000 between November 2015 and December 2022.
These include F1 tickets worth S$347,152.10, tickets to plays and musicals worth S$10,693.91, flights and accommodation worth S$20,848.03, and tickets to football matches worth S$5,646.94.
Mr Ong is best known for bringing F1 to the country, launching the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008. A friend of F1 boss Bernie Eccleston, Mr Ong helped seal the deal in 2007 that brought the race to Singapore. Mr Iswaran, meanwhile, served as the chairman and adviser to the F1 steering committee.
For each corruption charge, he faces a fine of up to S$100,000 and/or a jail term of up to seven years.
For the charges related to obtaining valuable items, he can be fined, jailed for as long as two years, or both.
As for the charge of obstruction of justice, he faces a jail sentence of as long as seven years, a fine, or both. /TISG