MDA assistant director pleads guilty to corruption and forgery

Media Development Authority (MDA) assistant director Lai Wai Khuen, accused of corruption and forgery, pleaded guilty to six charges on Friday.  -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Media Development Authority (MDA) assistant director Lai Wai Khuen, accused of corruption and forgery, pleaded guilty to six charges on Friday.  -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Media Development Authority (MDA) assistant director accused of corruption and forgery pleaded guilty to six charges on Friday.

Lai Wai Khuen, 37, originally accused of 31 charges and currently suspended from duty, admitted to one charge each of trying to get a loan and forgery, and three charges of getting loans of between $1,500 and $5,000 from various people in return for facilitating MDA grants.

A district court heard that Lai, who joined MDA as a manager in October 2009 and was promoted to assistant director in 2012, headed a cluster in charge of talent development, mediapolis, games, publishing and media services.

In the course of his work, he was required to promote, evaluate, recommend and administer the award and disburse MDA grants under various schemes.

Once the MDA grant was approved, he would prepare a letter of offer and letter of acceptance for the signature of his boss, Mr Thomas Lim, a director of MDA.

The court heard that he tried to borrow $3,000 from Mr Dezmond Loh Gai Kuang, managing director of Dawn Ofedia, in October 2012. Mr Loh refused and his complaint to MDA triggered internal investigations that revealed Lai's corrupt practices.

He had lied to various people that he needed loans to pay for his uncle's surgery, knowing that they would feel obliged to lend him, given his position as an assistant director in charge of grant applications .

Lai had admitted to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau that he had accumulated substantial debts from frequent gambling on cruise ships and casinos, and had solicited loans from grant applicants to clear his debts.

Eleven charges will be taken into consideration and 14 will be withdrawn when he is sentenced. The case was adjourned to July 7 for the prosecution to hand in written submissions and for his lawyer Mr G. S. Lim to mitigate.

The maximum penalty for corruption is a five-year jail term and a $100,000 fine on each charge, and four years and a fine for forgery.

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