He misused funds to pay for house, generated fake invoices

Phey Yew Kok in 1973.
Phey Yew Kok in 1973.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Phey Yew Kok used misappropriated union funds to pay in part for a new house, a district court heard yesterday.

With full control over the running and finances of two of Singapore's biggest unions, the Singapore Industrial Labour Organisation (Silo) and Pioneer Industries Employees Union (PIEU), Phey, now 81, committed a myriad of offences from 1973 to 1979, such as generating fake invoices so he could transfer money into his personal bank account.

At least $60,000 went to fund the purchase of a house in Lorong Ong Lye. Phey alone managed the Silo/PIEU Staff Fund, set up to give monetary awards to permanent employees who had completed five years' service or loans, and its accounts.

Contributions to the staff fund came from a part of the monthly salaries of the employees in the two unions.

In February 1974, Phey negotiated a scheme with Singapore Bus Services on behalf of Silo under which SBS would contribute $1 million annually for incentive payments to bus workers.

SBS would pay $250,000 to Silo every quarter and that money would be used to distribute incentives in the form of cash, goods and vouchers from the Silo Multipurpose Co-Operative Society (Silo MPCSL) to the bus workers.

By January 1975, SBS had paid $750,000 into Silo's main bank account, of which $680,081 had been used in incentives, leaving a surplus $69,919.

On Feb 24 that year, Phey directed a fake invoice to be issued by the Silo MPCSL supermarket division to Silo, stating that $40,000 was required to buy vouchers for bus workers. Instead, the money was deposited in the staff fund account. A cheque was then issued from this account to Phey, who deposited it into his personal bank account. He later used the money to pay for the house and lawyer's fees for the purchase.

That same day, Phey directed another fake invoice be issued from the Silo MPCSL supermarket division to Silo for $25,000, purportedly as reimbursement for purchase of vouchers issued to bus workers.

The $25,000 cheque was similarly deposited into the staff fund account and Phey later withdrew it and used it to pay for his house.

In January 1976, under his direction, a cheque for $15,000 was made out to his wife from the staff fund account and deposited into her personal account.

Phey also misappropriated $6,000 from Silo that was purported to be a loan to the assistant general secretary of Silo to buy a car. When he was questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau regarding this, he asked the general treasurer of Silo to falsify a receipt to corroborate his story.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng said Phey adopted multiple methods, such as layering of transactions, in committing the offences to make them hard to detect.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'He misused funds to pay for house, generated fake invoices'. Print Edition | Subscribe