A former head of Singapore's drugs police was cleared of corruption yesterday after a court rejected charges that he demanded oral sex from a contractor to help her win government deals.
Ng Boon Gay, former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, was accused of giving confidential information to a technology supplier who testified for the prosecution but whose statements were found to be inconsistent and unreliable.
Ng and former civil defence chief Peter Lim, both charged with obtaining sex from women seeking contracts at their agencies, were Singapore's most senior officials accused of corruption since 1995 when they were dismissed last year.
Lim, whose trial is scheduled to start on Monday, denies the charges.
"I am satisfied that the prosecution has failed to hold a case against you beyond reasonable doubt," District Court Judge Siva Shanmugam told Ng after a trial that captivated Singaporeans with its lurid details.
Supporters of Ng, 46, applauded the verdict. His wife leaned her head on a relative's shoulder and wiped tears from her eyes.
Ng's lawyer, Tan Chee Meng, said that they were extremely happy with the outcome. Ng said: "It's very nice to get acquitted on Valentine's Day."
Ng was accused of demanding oral sex from Cecilia Sue, 36, a computer systems sales executive, in exchange for helping her win contracts.
He admitted during the trial that he had sexual relations with Sue but said they had an extramarital affair that involved no corruption or coercion.
High-level graft cases are rare in Singapore, a corporate and financial centre with an efficient and well-paid bureaucracy.
Ng was charged with four counts of corruption. He could have been jailed for up to five years and fined a maximum of S$100,000 (HK$626,500) on each count.
The trial judge said that Ng's actions were "not corrupt as he was in an intimate relationship with Ms Sue at all times".
"She did not impress me as someone who could be taken advantage of," the judge said.
State prosecutors are assessing the ruling. "We will study the grounds of the decision and assess whether to appeal," said a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Chambers.
Wong Partnership, a top law firm representing Ng, said he still faced "internal processes" in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the police and narcotics bureau.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong vowed last year that dishonest officials would be punished in order to maintain Singapore's reputation as one of the world's least corrupt countries.
In 2011, senior civil servants Liew Chee Meng and Lim Chai Meng were sentenced to 22 years and 15 years in jail, respectively, for their role in defrauding the government of thousands of Singaporean dollars.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg