Ex-HDB employee who fled country 30 years ago sentenced to 42 weeks' jail for forgery

Five people, including a policeman and two former police officers, were charged in court on Thursday (June 15) with corruption and offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
Five people, including a policeman and two former police officers, were charged in court on Thursday (June 15) with corruption and offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A former Housing Development Board (HDB) maintenance inspector colluded with a subcontractor to forge works orders to deceive HDB into believing that the works stated in the documents had been checked and approved by two other HDB officers.

Hew Chong Wai, who fled Singapore in 1987 before charges could be served on him, received about $23,000 from co-accused Tan Kiam Hock for 128 forged work orders.

On Tuesday (June 13), the 53-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to 42 weeks' jail after admitting to 18 counts of forgery, with 110 other similar charges taken into consideration during sentencing.

The offences were committed between Feb 9 and March 11, 1987.

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Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Sanjiv Vaswani said Leong Hup Lee Construction Trading was the term contractor for the sanitary works at the HDB's Clementi West Area Office (CWAO) where Hew was attached.

Leong Hup Lee sub-contracted the works to Yaw Eng Construction which in turn subcontracted the works to Tan.

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau received information on March 16, 1987 that Hew had issued 12 works orders, dated Feb 9, 1987, which carried the purported signatures of two HDB officers.

Investigation showed that the two officers' signatures on the 12 works orders prepared by Hew were forged. The amount involved was $16,100. Checks conducted showed that the works stated were not carried out.

Neither was work done on six other forged works orders involving $8,915.

DPP Vaswani said that sometime in 1987, Hew hatched a plan to obtain money through fraudulent means by forging the works orders to deceive his employers into believing that these works had been completed. He was abetted by Tan, who would claim payments on these works orders from his main contractor, who would eventually claim reimbursement from HDB.

Tan received a total of $21,763 in respect of the 18 forged works orders.

In May 1988, Tan, now 57, admitted to 18 of 128 charges of abetting Hew to forge the works orders and was jailed for four months. The remaining 110 charges were taken into consideration.

Of the total of $53,602 due to Tan for all 128 works orders, Tan later paid Hew a total of $22,960 on three occasions. Based on the latest Consumer Price Index figures, the estimated corresponding value of $22,960 is about $39,000.

Hew, whose Malaysian restricted passport was seized during investigations, fled Singapore before he could be produced in court. He was arrested by the Malaysian police in Seremban on May 5 this year and subsequently repatriated.

District Judge Kenneth Yap backdated Hew's sentence to May 13.

Hew could have been jailed for up to seven years on each charge.