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Singapore anti-graft official charged with fraud

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The sun sets over the Singapore skyline on September 17, 2012. A Singapore court on Wednesday charged a senior anti-corruption official with siphoning off more than a million dollars of government money to fund his casino gambling habit. (AFP/File)

A Singapore court on Wednesday charged a senior anti-corruption official with siphoning off more than a million dollars of government money to fund his casino gambling habit.

Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, 39, an assistant director at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), is accused of misappropriating Sg$1.76 million ($1.4 million) worth of government funds.

Yeo faces additional charges under Singapore's tough anti-corruption laws for using the money to gamble at a casino and forgery after he allegedly duplicated a receipt voucher worth Sg$370,755.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the minister in charge of the civil service, expressed concern that a senior anti-corruption officer was charged with fraud.

He said the case, the latest involving a senior civil servant, had prompted a review of supervisory procedures in government agencies.

"This case is particularly serious because it involved a senior officer in the CPIB, which is entrusted with the mission of maintaining the integrity of the system," Teo said in a statement.

"As there has been a number of high profile cases recently, the public is understandably concerned about whether this reflects systemic issues in the public service."

One of the recent high-profile cases involved Peter Lim, former head of the country's civil defence force, who is currently serving a six-month jail term for corruption.

Lim was convicted on May 31 this year for receiving oral sex from a female executive of a defence supplier in return for business favours.

A former head of the Singapore police's drug enforcement unit, Ng Boon Gay, had also been charged in a separate sex-for-favours case but was acquitted.

Large-scale graft cases remain rare in Singapore, a thriving business hub and financial centre, and the government has jealously guarded its reputation as among the least corrupt in the world.

Singapore pays its civil servants some of the highest government salaries globally in what it says is a deterrent to corruption.