Tuition agencies' owner jailed over PIC scam

He helped five others to cheat Govt in same way, endangered cop while in his sports car

A business owner of several tuition agencies made fraudulent Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) claims of more than $100,000 for entities under his control, and helped five others cheat the Government of similar cash payouts.

Yesterday, Xu Feng Jia, 33, was sentenced to four months and 12 weeks' jail and ordered to pay a penalty of $257,436 after he had admitted to four of nine charges of submitting false information to obtain PIC cash payouts totalling $70,130.

The PIC scheme was introduced in Budget 2010 to encourage businesses in Singapore to invest in productivity and innovation.

As both the prosecution and defence are appealing, Xu's sentence was stayed. Bail of $50,000, pending appeal, was granted.

Xu is also appealing against conviction for committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of Sergeant Muhammad Fathi Talhah. Xu was accused of driving off in his Lamborghini suddenly and at high speed while the officer was standing close to the car and holding on to its door.

This happened outside Yishun North Neighbourhood Police Centre at about 1.15am on March 15, 2015.

He was given six weeks' jail and banned from driving for 12 months by District Judge Eugene Teo, who ordered the two sets of sentences to run consecutively.

The court heard that between September and December 2012, Xu orchestrated the submission of nine fraudulent PIC claims to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

Four of these claims were made by entities directly under his control, which included Edward Home Tuition Agency, Edward Education Consultancy, A Tick For That! Education School and Friends! Learning Centre.

He had misrepresented to Iras that these entities were entitled to make PIC claims by stating that they had three local employees when they were actually volunteer tutors. He also claimed that these entities had made qualifying PIC expenditures when the expenses were either fake or personal expenses made by volunteer or part-time tutors.

The five remaining fraudulent PIC claims were made by entities to whom Xu had sold his tuition-matching software titled iManage. He assured them that they would be able to get reimbursement from the Government for the purchase of the software by way of a PIC cash payout.

He helped the five sole proprietors, aged between 29 and 70, by providing them with particulars of individuals unrelated to the businesses to be listed as their local employees on their PIC forms.

The five were each given the maximum $5,000 fine and ordered to pay two times the amount of the cash payouts in end-2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'Tuition agencies' owner jailed over PIC scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe