Ex-CPIB assistant director Edwin Yeo jailed 10 years for criminal breach of trust

Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, a former assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau who misappropriated $1.76 million, was jailed for 10 years on Thursday, Feb 20, 2014, for criminal breach of trust as a public servant and for forger
Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, a former assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau who misappropriated $1.76 million, was jailed for 10 years on Thursday, Feb 20, 2014, for criminal breach of trust as a public servant and for forgery. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A former assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau who misappropriated $1.76 million was jailed for 10 years on Thursday for criminal breach of trust as a public servant and for forgery.

Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, 40, who had faced 21 charges, admitted to four charges, including one of making a false receiving voucher to make CPIB believe that a vendor, Mr Lam Chee Loong, had been paid $370,755 when this was not so.

In all, the 15-year veteran misappropriated $1.76 million over 31/2 years when he was heading the bureau's Field Research and Technical Support (FRTS) between 2009 and 2012.

A total of $65,910 was also seized from him.

As head of FRTS, Yeo was responsible for the bureau's operational expenses by using funds in the form of cash cheques issued by CPIB's administration and support department.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Thevar said that between 2009 and 2012, Yeo pocketed funds that had been issued for FRTS' expenses and used them towards his personal expenditures, including credit card payments and gambling.

He lost at least $478,583 at the two casinos here from April 2010 to September 2012. He visited Resorts World Sentosa casino on 152 occasions and Marina Bay Sands, 220 times. He also lost another $263,699 through betting with Singapore Pools.

Mr Thevar told the court that for each sum he misappropriated, Yeo would cover up for the missing funds by using the next sum of cash that was made available to him - a method known as "rolling over''. He did this because the funds provided for payment of the earlier FRTS expenses were spent by him on his personal debts and expenses.

He also got his staff to negotiate with various vendors who had provided or contracted to provide goods and services to FRTS to accept delayed payments of the sums owed to them, in order to give himself more time to pay these vendors.

Between January and November 2011, he misappropriated $323,613 out of the $562,516 worth of payment vouchers issued to FRTS by several vendors. Between Febraury and August 2012, he misappropriated another $716,768 out of $749418 that had been disbursed.

Yeo had applied for Internet banking facilities in late 2011 for FRTS' DBS account, contrary to instructions that transactions from the bank account were only to be effected with the concurrence of two authorised signatories. As a result, he was able to unilaterally conduct transfers of funds out of the bank account to his personal POSB account without anyone knowing.

On various occasions between May 4 and Aug 31, 2012, he dishonestly misappropriated $470,265 by using Internet banking to make multiple transfers.

The court heard that he spent the misappropriated amounts to roll over part of the sum towards paying off earlier FRTS expenses and on his personal expenses such as gambling.

In sentencing him, District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed with the prosecution that there were several aggravating factors which warranted a deterrent sentence. Among the factors were the significant amounts of public funds, Yeo's egregious abuse of trust and authority and the fact that the offences had undermined public confidence in Singapore's law enforcement agencies.

Yeo, represented by lawyer Mr Tan Hee Joek, was cleared of a charge of criminal breach of trust involving $1,200 after it was withdrawn.

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