Man fined $40k for helping eye surgeon hide his earnings

In mitigation, Huang's lawyer said his client did not profit from the acts and that he has been contributing significantly to charitable works.
In mitigation, Huang's lawyer said his client did not profit from the acts and that he has been contributing significantly to charitable works.

Ex-clinic manager conspired with doctor - an ex-national swimmer - to misappropriate a total of $474k

A former manager of The Lasik Surgery Clinic (LSC), who helped an eye surgeon hide his earnings of almost $475,000, was fined a total of $40,000 yesterday.

Felix Huang Keming, 62, who faced 10 charges, pleaded guilty to conspiring with former national swimmer Marc Tay Tze-Hsin to misappropriate a total of $474,124 and two counts of instigating an LSC colleague to falsify accounts in 2005.

Consultant ophthalmologist Tay was supposed to pay the $474,124 to Pacific Healthcare Specialist Services (PHSS) but the money went into his pocket. He was at the time a consultant and director of PHSS.

To cover up the payments to Tay, Huang asked the LSC colleague to make false entries in LSC's chequebook register to show that cheques of between $2,520 and $79,000 were issued to US Imaging Consultancy, a fake entity.

Dr Tay, 55, who was suspended recently from practice for three months, was fined $30,000 in 2014 on three charges of misappropriating a total of $204,325, and another $2,000 for breaching the Companies Act. He had been allowed by PHSS to provide services through third-party healthcare service providers on condition that the work was done for and on behalf of PHSS and that all revenue generated belonged to, and would be paid to, PHSS.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jiang Ke-Yue said that with the knowledge of PHSS, Dr Tay was invited and accepted Huang's invitation in 2005 to become a visiting consultant of LSC, where he eventually performed Lasik surgery.

Over time, there was an exponential increase in demand for Dr Tay's services at LSC, which led to a corresponding increase in revenue from Lasik surgeries he performed and from Dr Tay's appointment as LSC's principal eye surgeon.

Investigation showed that from December 2005 to December 2006, Huang made cash payments totalling $474,124 to Dr Tay on 11 occasions.

In mitigation, Huang's lawyer Abraham Vergis said his client did not profit from the acts.

He said Huang, who suffers from various health conditions, has been contributing significantly to charitable works.

"Through his home-grown company, Singapore Medical Group (SMG), he has provided much-needed help to the community through its corporate social responsibility schemes,'' he said. SMG is LSC's parent company.

DPP Jiang had submitted that Huang's total fine should be higher than Dr Tay's. Among the reasons were that both men had acted for mutual benefit in conspiring to dishonestly misappropriate money from PHSS.

While Dr Tay was the beneficiary of the money, Huang had acted to incentivise his top-performing surgeon. His overall culpability was enhanced by his additional offences of concealing the illicit payments via false entries in LSC's chequebook register.

Huang could have been jailed for up to two years and fined for abetment of dishonest misappropriation, and jailed up to seven years and fined for falsifying accounts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Man fined $40k for helping eye surgeon hide his earnings'. Print Edition | Subscribe