Couple jailed for cheating Spring Singapore

I Shi Hui and Soh Hua Xiang were jailed on Tuesday (June 6) for cheating Spring Singapore of $50,000.
I Shi Hui and Soh Hua Xiang were jailed on Tuesday (June 6) for cheating Spring Singapore of $50,000. ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - Two former Spring Singapore employees, who were in a relationship, were jailed on Tuesday (June 6) after working together to cheat the organisation of $50,000.

They also attempted to cheat the agency of an additional $145,000.

At the time of the offences, I Shu Hui, who was jailed for a year, was a Spring Singapore finance manager while Soh Hua Xiang had already left the organisation.

Soh, now 31, who was jailed for 15 months, had worked there as a business capabilities manager in charge of the Innovation and Capability Vouchers (ICV) scheme.

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The court heard that on his own, he cheated Spring Singapore of another $5,000.

I, now 30, has since left the agency and it was not mentioned in court if the couple are still together.

Last month, Soh pleaded guilty to 21 counts of cheating while I admitted to 20 similar charges.

They each had 19 additional cheating charges taken into consideration during sentencing.

On top of these, Soh had 161 counts of forgery taken into consideration while I had 157.

The pair committed their offences in August and October 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Magdalene Huang said the ICV scheme aims to encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to develop their capabilities in different categories such as innovation, productivity and financial management.

Participating SMEs can receive a $5,000 voucher from Spring Singapore and a company can apply for up to two vouchers in each category. A business can apply for a maximum of eight vouchers in all and Spring Singapore will reimburse successful applicants.

Sometime in August 2015, the couple worked together to use the names of sole proprietors and the Unique Entity Numbers of their businesses to apply for ICVs online without the business owners' authorisation or knowledge.

DPP Huang said: "(Soh) walked around the heartlands of Singapore to identify businesses whose names he could use to make fraudulent applications under. (The fraudulent applications) were for the purchase of point-of-sales (POS) systems. He targeted mini marts as POS systems will be more applicable to their businesses."

After selecting the targeted sole proprietorships, he passed their names to I for her to check whether they had submitted ICV applications before.

If they had not, their names could be used for the fraudulent applications.

As for supporting documents, Soh submitted to Spring Singapore on the ICV online portal forged quotations for POS systems purportedly issued by four other companies.

Soh randomly picked them off the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) website as solution providers and issued the quotations without the firms' authorisation or knowledge.

He then submitted the claims once applications were approved.

After the claims were approved, Soh either mailed to Spring Singapore, handed to its receptionist, or handed to I forged Giro authorisation forms and forged Acra Bizfile records.

After I approved the Giro disbursements of the fraudulent ICV claims, she processed the disbursements for her superiors' further approval.

DPP Huang said: "(Soh) knew the ICV system very well because of his prior employment with Spring Singapore. He decided to cheat (it) in order to obtain money to buy a house for his sister, as he wanted to stay separately from her."

Their offences came to light after Spring Singapore's director of human resources and organisation development made a police report at the Commercial Affairs Department on May 26, last year, stating that Soh might have submitted fraudulent ICV claims to the organisation.

Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed up to 10 years and fined for each charge.