MDA assistant director charged with corruption and forgery

An assistant director at the Media Development Authority (MDA) was charged in court on Friday morning with allegedly corruptly obtaining loans and forging documents.

Lai Wai Khuen, 37, is accused of corruptly obtaining gratification in the form of loans 27 times and corruptly attempting to obtain a loan as an inducement to facilitate the approval and disbursement of grants. He is also accused of forging documents on three occasions.

As an assistant director at the MDA, Lai's responsibilities included overseeing the evaluation of MDA grant applications. He was also responsible for the disbursement of the grants, which were usually given out in instalments.

Investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau revealed that from 2010 to 2013, Lai allegedly obtained loans amounting to $23,565 from 12 grant applicants on 27 occasions, and on another occasion attempted to obtain a loan of $3,000 without success. Lai also allegedly forged documents by fraudulently signing off as Thomas Lim, a director with the MDA.

If found guilty of corruption, Lai could face a fine not exceeding $100,000 or a jail term of up to five years, or both under the Prevention of Corruption Act. For forgery, he could also face imprisonment of up to four years, or a fine, or both under the Penal Code.

The MDA, a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information, is responsible for promoting and regulating the media sector. It offers grants to help finance projects in broadcast, film, animation, publishing, interactive media, games and music.

In February last year, The Straits Times reported that Lai was involved in a CPIB probe following complaints against him which surfaced the month before. He was believed to have been suspended from duty with his salary docked.

An MDA spokesman said then: "When MDA discovered some irregularities in the conduct of an officer whose duties involved working with grant applicants, we took immediate action to refer the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau."