Corporate offenders may avoid prosecution

by Nurhuda Syed17 Jan 2018
Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) may soon be introduced in Singapore courts for certain corporate offences, said law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam.

Under the DPA, prosecutors agree not to prosecute a corporate entity in exchange for the fulfilment of certain conditions. The DPA is a legal tool that the US authorities used in the recent corruption scandal involving Keppel Offshore & Marine.

Corporations would avoid criminal conviction if they meet the conditions of the agreement but could pay higher fines compared to what the current criminal law provides for, said Shanmugam at the ‘Modernising Criminal Justice: New Developments in Criminal Procedure’ dialogue earlier this week organised by the Law Society of Singapore.

Such agreements are only for corporate offenders represented by counsel and are fully voluntary, reported TODAY.

DPAs will contain the terms of the case, including the statement of facts, expiry date and relevant financial penalty where applicable – all of which must be approved by the Singapore high court.

Gregory Vijayendran, president of Law Society called the introduction of the DPA “forward-looking” and not a case of “going light on corporations versus individuals”.

Cases involving corporations can be complex. For instance, corporations are considered “artificial legal persons” and it can be difficult to pinpoint who exactly to blame for a corporate’s wrongdoing, he noted.

“What constitutes the mind of the corporation and whose state of mind should be imputed to the corporation – these are difficult questions,” Vijayendran said.

Related stories:
Keppel fined US$422m for corrupt practices
How can management enforce anti-corruption policies overseas?


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