Paradise Group trial: Defence claims SP PowerGrid did not secure meter set-ups

Mr Eldwin Chua (right), chief executive officer of the Paradise restaurant group, and his brother Edlan, who is the business’ chief operating officer. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Mr Eldwin Chua (right), chief executive officer of the Paradise restaurant group, and his brother Edlan, who is the business’ chief operating officer. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Gas distributor SP PowerGrid, which manages high-, medium- and low-pressure gas pipes here, may not have properly secured its gas meter installations at 24 outlets under the Paradise restaurant group. As a result, unauthorised persons were able to gain access to their premises, resulting in the tampering that allegedly took place there, suggested Senior Counsel Engelin Teh, representing the restaurants.

She brought up this possibility while cross-examining Mr Ang Soon Lim, a senior engineer with SP PowerGrid, on Thursday. Mr Ang, who finished testifying on Friday, disagreed that his employer had failed to secure the installations.

The Paradise group and 11 of its subsidiaries face 25 counts of tampering with the installations, and eight for dishonestly consuming gas supplied by City Gas.  The alleged tampering allegedly compromised accuracy and caused gas losses of 3,039,570.09 kilowatt hours - amounting to $640,313.25 in value - to City Gas. The alleged offences were discovered between March and May 2012 and involved 24 restaurants.

The second witness in the trial, SP PowerGrid technician Chew Ann Joon, took the stand on Friday. Prosecuting counsel for the Energy Market Authority, which regulates the gas industry here, will begin examining him when the hearing resumes at a later date. New dates will be fixed at a pre-trial conference on Jan 20.

The penalty for altering and tampering with a gas meter is a fine of up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to a year. Dishonest use of gas could be punished with a fine of up to $50,000 and up to five years in jail.