SINGAPORE A former executive at oil company BP (BP.L) in Singapore was charged on Thursday with obtaining $3.95 million (3.25 million pounds) in bribes in what the city-state's anti-corruption agency called one of the largest corruption cases in the country.
Clarence Chang Peng Hong, a former regional director for marine fuels with BP, was charged with taking bribes from an executive at a petroleum products supplier in order to advance the company's business interests with BP, according to the charge sheet from Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
The 51-year-old faces a total of 47 charges, which include transferring money that "were benefits of corrupt proceeds" to local Singaporean bank accounts from Hong Kong and "converting property" that "were direct or indirect benefits of corrupt proceeds" to buy three houses and two condominiums, the statement said.
"Those who abuse their position in the company to manipulate deals for personal gains will face dire consequences", the CPIB said.
The alleged offences took place between July 2006 and November 2012.
"We understand charges have been filed against Clarence Chang. His employment with BP ended July 2010," a BP spokeswoman said in a statement. "We became aware of some concerning activities in 2010 which we reported to the authorities. These charges have been filed by the Singapore authorities, we cannot comment on them."
Singapore, known for its tough laws, was ranked sixth in Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
If found guilty, Chang faces imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to S$500,000 ($352,485) or both, according to the CPIB statement.
Chang's lawyer, Alfonso Ang, said that he has only received word of the case and is discussing it with his client. He added that the court has adjourned the case until April 6.
Last year, Singapore's financial service sector was hit by corruption and money laundering investigations tied to Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Singapore authorities then took the unprecedented steps of ordering the closure of the local operations of Swiss bank BSI and Falcon Bank because of their involvement with 1MDB.
($1 = 1.4203 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Fathin Ungku and Mark Tay in SINGAPORE and Parakshit Mishra in BANGALORE; Editing by Anshuman Daga and Christian Schmollinger)