April 15, 2005
Closed trial for Singaporean in naval bribery scandal
A SINGAPOREN man at the center of a bribery scandal related to a naval helicopter contract pleaded guilty Friday, April 15, to an amended corruption charge that also cleared European aerospace giant EADS.
Eng Heng Chiaw, 46, was sentenced by a subordinate court judge to eight weeks in jail for the offence. Five years is the maximum possible sentence.
The new charge sheet accused Eng of offering S$500,000 to an executive of Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency, Sin Boon Wah, in exchange for information on tender bids in a defence ministry contract for the naval helicopters.
The amended charge dropped any reference to the Europoean Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which had consistently denied any association with Eng and links with the bribery.
The new charge said Eng was making the offer "in relation to his principal's affairs", without identifying the entity he was prying the information for.
The original charge sheet obtained by AFP on February 23 said Eng had wanted the information "about the price offered by the competitor in a naval helicopter project so that a company, European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) SEA P/L, could price its offer to secure the said project."
The government contract for six naval helicopters was eventually awarded to Sikorsky Aircraft of the United States.
"We have always maintained that this charge had nothing to do with us. The fact that our name was removed from the charge sheet basically holds this true," EADS spokesman Moses Wong told AFP.
EADS, which is partly owned by the French government, has suggested the case had been "manipulated" to damage the company's reputation, without elaborating on who was behind it.
Eng's lawyer, Shashi Nathan, said his client had acted alone in making the bribery offer.
"It was always in our position that he (Eng) went on a frolic of his own, rather than trying to help a third party," Nathan told reporters after the sentencing.
Nathan, in his mitigation plea to the court earlier Friday, said Eng had made the offer "out of mischief", and that his client had no financial backing.
"I urge the court to recognise that this was an empty offer with no value, no consequence," he said,
Judge Tan Poon Khai said sentencing Eng to imprisonment "sends
a strong signal that corruption in any way or form can't be tolerated."