Ex-business director of STE subsidiary cleared of one and convicted of another bribery charge

Mark Edward Tjong, 48, the former business director of a subsidiary of ST Electronics, leaves the court on July 24, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Mark Edward Tjong, 48, the former business director of a subsidiary of ST Electronics, leaves the court on July 24, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - A former business director of an ST Electronics subsidiary was cleared of one corruption charge and convicted of another on Thursday.

Mark Edward Tjong, an American citizen and a Singapore permanent resident, was an employee of ST Electronics (Info-Software Systems), a subsidiary of the electronics arm of mainboard-listed Singapore Technologies Engineering at the time.

The 48-year-old, who is now unemployed, was acquitted of corruptly obtaining, through his then girlfriend and now wife Ho Su-Ling, 38, $30,000 from Bangladesh national Mujibur Rahman, 65, as a reward for appointing him as STE's agent to help the software systems implementor clinch a contract with the Bangladesh Police Department.

The alleged offence took place on Aug 23, 2006.

District Judge Liew Thiam Leng convicted Tjong after a trial of corruptly getting, through Ms Ho, $57,387 from Mr Mujibur on Aug 11 that year as a reward for appointing the latter as an agent in the same project.

Tjong's job scope included sourcing for tenders from South Asia for STE senior management. As a business director, he travelled frequently to Bangladesh.

In 2005, Tjong met Mr Mujibur, the managing director of Kings Shipping and Trading. Mr Mujibur was later appointed STE's agent to secure projects in Bangladesh.

The following year, Mr Mujibur clinched a deal to supply walkie-talkies and a telecommunications network to the police force and was paid about $185,000 as his agent's fees. With the help of Tjong, Mr Mujibur opened a checking account with Citibank here and deposited the cheque before flying home.

The court heard that later on, Tjong asked Mr Mujibur what he could do for him. Tjong then asked the Bangladeshi to make out two cheques - both pre-signed - and handed to Tjong to fill in.

In his judgment, Judge Liew said he was satisfied that the prosecution had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt on the first charge but acquitted Tjong of the second.

In clearing him, he accepted the defence case that the money was used to pay for the tuition fees of Mr Mujibur's son in London, as well as for his car's spare parts.

Mr Shashi Nathan will present his mitigation plea on Aug 5. He told reporters outside court that he was surprised by the decision.

"While we respect the court's decision, my client has instructions to appeal against the charge that he has been convicted of,'' he said.

The maximum penalty for corruption is a $100,000 fine and five years' jail.