A not guilty plea was entered by Subramaniam Iswaran to 27 charges, one of which was “obtaining gratification as a public servant”.
It is well known that he oversaw Singapore’s tourism sector at the time of the glitzy inaugural Formula One Grand Prix in the city-state.
On Thursday, Mr. Iswaran resigned from his government position.
The corruption allegations have taken center stage in Singapore’s media headlines.
Prosecutors’ charge sheets made public disclosed claims that he received gifts totaling over S$160,000 ($119,145; £93,850) in the form of travel, lodging, and Grand Prix tickets in return for promoting the business ventures of real estate mogul Ong Beng Seng.
Additionally, he is charged with receiving tickets to football games and West End musicals.
Along with Mr. Ong, who played a key role in bringing the Formula One race to Singapore in 2008, Mr. Iswaran was also arrested last year. In all of Mr. Iswaran’s accusations, Mr. Ong was mentioned, frequently as the person allegedly supplying the bribes.
Mr. Iswaran wrote to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, stating, “I reject the charges and am innocent.”
Along with announcing his resignation, he added that he would reimburse his salaries and benefits since his case began to be investigated in July of last year.
After being arrested, Mr. Iswaran was placed on leave, but he continued to receive S$8,500 per month. In addition, he was getting over S$15,000 in allowance as an MP.
Legislators in Singapore are among the highest paid in the world; ministers’ starting salaries exceed S$45,000 per month. Leaders have used the argument that it will fight corruption to defend this.
Seldom occurring political scandals shook Singapore
Throughout his career, Mr. Iswaran, a former member of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), has served as a director of numerous significant businesses.
He had several positions in the prime minister’s office, home affairs, communications, and, most recently, the ministry of transportation during his time in government.
However, he rose to prominence during his protracted employment in the ministry of trade and industry. In Singapore, Mr. Iswaran played a role in the development of the travel industry in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
During this period, the government built casinos, hotels, tourist attractions, and major events like the Formula One Race by pouring in enormous resources and enticing billions of foreign investors.
On the podium, he was a well-known figure, frequently awarding trophies to drivers in front of jubilant champagne showers.
The PAP, which has long bragged about how strongly it opposes corruption and immoral behavior, has been rocked by a number of embarrassing political scandals, including the one that is currently involving him.
The prime minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee, announced on Thursday that his government had handled this case “rigorously” and that he had accepted Mr. Iswaran’s resignation.
“I’m committed to maintaining the party’s and the government’s integrity as well as our standing as an honest and uncorruptible group. No less is expected of Singaporeans,” he said.
The last time a minister was the subject of a corruption investigation was Teh Cheang Wan, the minister of national development, who was looked into for taking bribes in 1986. He committed suicide prior to being prosecuted.