Man sentenced to 20 months in jail and $12,000 for bribing NEA officer

SINGAPORE - A construction firm director who gave bribes to get contracts at an incineration plant was given 20 months' jail and fined $12,000 on Thursday.

Fifty-one-year-old Tan Boon Gee, who was offered $20,000 bail, is appealing the sentence. He faced a total of 19 charges including corruption and falsification of accounts, 12 of which were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Tan was the director of construction company Mincon Engineering.

In 2005, Tan approached Mr Oh Hian Kee and asked the former senior technical officer at the National Environment Agency (NEA) to help him by revealing more details about the Tuas South Incineration Plant project, so his company would stand a higher chance of securing the project from NEA.

Tan also told Mr Oh that he would give him a commission for every contract that Mincon managed to secure.

The duo had become friends in 1994, in the course of work. They became close friends, and bonded over cruise-ship gambling and soccer bets.

In total, Tan made 15 payments from 2006 to 2009, from $3,000 to $30,000.

Two initial payments in 2006 - of $6,500 and $8,000 - were for Mr Oh to recommend Mincon for contracts at the Tuas South Incineration Plant.

The rest were paid to ensure that Mr Oh would be lenient when supervising works carried out by Mincon at the government-owned plant, where he was one of two team leaders in the Mechanical Maintenance Unit.

Tan's defence lawyer Tito Isaac said Tan had initiated only the bribes for the first two payments, with Mr Oh demanding the remaining payments. Tan paid because he felt he could not afford to offend Mr Oh given his position of authority.

Mr Oh was jailed for 36 months in January 2012, and was ordered to pay a penalty of $119,700 - the sum he received in bribes.

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

limyihan@sph.com.sg