Iswaran Granted Permission to Travel Abroad Amidst Bribery and Corruption Charges


Former Transport Minister S Iswaran has been granted permission by the court to leave Singapore for over two weeks.

Iswaran, who is facing multiple bribery and corruption-related charges, appeared in court on Thursday to request permission to travel from February 16 to March 4 to settle his son into university.

Although the country of destination was not disclosed in court, it has been reported that Iswaran is heading to Australia. He was granted permission to leave Singapore was on Thursday (Feb 8).

The prosecution did not object to his application but set out a few conditions, including an additional cash bail of S$500,000 and for Iswaran to provide his travel itinerary to the investigating officer.

Judge Brenda Tan granted the request with the condition that Iswaran must also provide the address of his overseas accommodation, remain contactable by the investigation officer, and surrender his travel documents within 24 hours of returning to Singapore.

The defence accepted these conditions.

The prosecution also applied to transfer the case to the High Court due to the strong public interest in the matter. The defence did not oppose the request but asked if the trial could begin as soon as possible. The prosecution noted that the High Court judge’s calendar would need to be considered.

District Judge Tan approved the request to move the case to the High Court.

Iswaran was charged on January 18 with 27 offences, primarily related to alleged bribery and corruption amounting to over S$384,300.

The charges include 24 offences under Section 165 of the Penal Code, two under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and one for obstruction of justice. Iswaran is accused of accepting valuable items worth approximately S$218,058.95 from Ong Beng Seng, the managing director of Hotel Properties and a Malaysian billionaire who played a prominent role in bringing the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Singapore. It is alleged that Iswaran received gratification worth about S$166,280 in the form of event and flight tickets from Ong in exchange for advancing Ong’s business interests.

Iswaran, represented by a team led by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, pleaded not guilty to the charges in January. He released a statement after the hearing affirming his innocence and his intentions to clear his name.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers stated in January that any action against Ong would only be decided upon the conclusion of proceedings against Iswaran.

According to legal experts, accused persons in Singapore are allowed to leave the country under certain conditions. They must submit an application called LEJUR (Leave Jurisdiction) to the courts, which will assess factors such as the likelihood of the accused absconding and the nature of their alleged crimes. Other factors considered include the accused’s reason for leaving, whether they have established roots in Singapore (such as family, assets, and businesses), and the duration of their intended travel. LEJUR applications may be rejected if the accused is considered a flight risk or if it causes unnecessary delays in court proceedings.

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