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CPIB probe into Starburst chairman, MD linked to corrupt transactions with agents

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Starburst Holdings executive chairman Edward Lim Chin Wah and managing director Yap Tin Foo are being investigated in relation to “corrupt transactions with agents”, the Catalist-listed firm said on Wednesday (Nov 18), in response to queries from the Singapore Exchange on Monday.

Starburst had announced on Nov 15 that Lim, Yap, and senior project manager Josiah Lawrence Ng Eng Long were on bail amid an investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), related to the affairs of wholly-owned unit Starburst Engineering Pte Ltd.

On Wednesday, Starburst confirmed that the trio had been arrested by the police’s white-collar crime unit and are currently on bail pending the ongoing investigation.

It said that based on information provided to the company by Lim, Yap and Ng, the former two are being investigated for offences under Section 6 (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (Chapter 241) of Singapore; Ng is being investigated for abetting the commission of an offence under that Act.

That section of the Act relates to “corrupt transactions with agents”, specifically to corruptly giving or offering gratification to agents for doing any act in relation to the principal’s affairs or business, or showing favour or disfavour to any person in relation to such business.

The company’s chief financial officer Wu Guangyi was also interviewed by the CPIB as part of its investigation. He was not arrested and, to the best of his knowledge, is not the subject of an investigation.

Starburst noted that in connection with the investigations, certain records and documents of Starburst Engineering and electronic equipment – including flash drives, hard disks and laptops – have been handed over to the CPIB.

In its Nov 15 announcement, Starburst had noted that the CPIB investigation is not related to the group’s current projects, and accordingly does not affect the group’s business and operations.

On Wednesday, it said: “Save in respect of the standard conditions of bail applicable to Mr Lim, Mr Yap and Mr Ng, there have been no other conditions or restrictions imposed by CPIB on the relevant persons.”

The “standard conditions” include the surrendering of travel documents, surrendering to custody or making oneself available for investigations and attending of court as appointed.

Yap and Ng’s passports are with the CPIB. The CPIB has not requested Lim to surrender his travel documents, said Starburst.

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“Each of the relevant persons has agreed to inform the company, on a continuing and timely basis, on any updates in respect the ongoing investigation and any subsequent developments thereto,” said Starburst, adding that it will keep shareholders abreast of material developments.

“The Board confirms that it will continue to monitor the progress of the ongoing investigation and the NC (nominating committee) will continue to re-assess the relevant persons’ suitability as a director/key management of the company as and when there are developments to the investigation,” it said.

It advised shareholders and potential investors to exercise caution when dealing in its shares.

Starburst shares were trading up 0.7 cent or 4.3 per cent at 17.1 cents at 9.26am on Thursday after the news.

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