Prison officer jailed for cheating

A senior prison officer has been jailed for 10 months for conspiring with 10 others to cheat the government agency that helps ensure public funds are spent properly.
A senior prison officer has been jailed for 10 months for conspiring with 10 others to cheat the government agency that helps ensure public funds are spent properly.PHOTO: ST FILE

A senior prison officer has been jailed for 10 months for conspiring with 10 others to cheat the government agency that helps ensure public funds are spent properly.

Chew Tee Seng, a deputy superintendent of prisons, was involved in submitting 126 forged documents to the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) during its audit of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) for the financial year 2010. The aim was to cover up previous forged documents.

It is unclear how much public funds were lost. However, the amounts in the 126 fake documents totalled $2.8 million, so Chew's crimes involved a large sum, the prosecution said.

Chew pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 20 out of 126 charges of using forged documents. He was sentenced on Tuesday and is out on $50,000 bail, pending an appeal.

Chew was manager of the prisons' Infrastructure Development Branch. The 11 accused, from four organisations including the SPS, submitted the fake documents to cover up the prison service's and Thong Huat Brothers' failure to comply with government procurement procedures.

Thong Huat is one of the oldest civil engineering and building contractors in Singapore.

The AGO audit took place from July 2011 to March 2012. The other organisations involved in the scheme are Boon Yong Electrical and CPG Facilities Management.

In July 2011, AGO asked SPS for documents on works undertaken by Thong Huat under a three-year Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) contract. All works awarded under the contract were managed by CPG on behalf of the prisons, as part of CPG's contract with MHA.

Thong Huat was required to call for quotations from sub-contractors for procurement of goods and services for various items. But documents such as sub-contractors' quotations were missing due to supervisory lapses by CPG and SPS.

A Thong Huat senior project manager then suggested that backdated quotations be issued in his firm's name to cover up previous forgeries and overcharging by the firm, the court heard.

Apart from stating Thong Huat was the lowest bidder, some of the forged quotations were issued in the sub-contractors' names.

The conspirators would indicate the offer price in the fake documents to be the same as the amount Thong Huat would claim from the prisons.

Chew is the first person involved in the scheme to be sentenced by the courts. The others will be dealt with later.

Amir Hussain

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2016, with the headline 'Prison officer jailed for cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe