Town council ex-GM's graft trial

$20k remittance to accused's mistress partially repaid

Prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan (left) said the $20,000 remittance arranged by his business partner Chia Sin Lan (below) was "inappropriate". It was sent to China for the mistress of a town council's former general manager.
Prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan (left) said the $20,000 remittance arranged by his business partner Chia Sin Lan (right) was "inappropriate". It was sent to China for the mistress of a town council's former general manager.

Defence discloses that $10,000 was returned; witness had earlier called remittance a bribe

A remittance of $20,000 sent to China for the mistress of a town council's former general manager - alleged to be a bribe - was partially repaid, defence lawyer Melanie Ho said yesterday.

She disclosed this in court while cross-examining prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan in an ongoing bribery trial. Mr Tay had said earlier this week the remittance arranged by his business partner, Chia Sin Lan, 63, in June 2015 was "inappropriate" and a "form of bribery".

Ms Ho, who is representing Wong Chee Meng, 58, the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council, said $10,000 was returned to Chia in April 2016.

She did not give further details.

Mr Tay said Chia had told him the money was for Ms Xu Hongmei's home renovations in China, but did not know if any of it was repaid.

Both Chia and Wong are on trial for corruption, involving more than $107,000 in bribes that Chia allegedly gave to Wong over almost two years. Almost $53,000 was allegedly spent at KTV lounges and massage parlours by the pair. The bribes were for advancing the business interests of Chia's companies, 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise, prosecutors have charged.

Asked by Ms Ho yesterday if the remittance was still considered a bribe if Ms Xu had repaid the amount, Mr Tay said: "If she returns the partial or full sum... I think this would not be bribery but a loan."

 
 
 

Ms Ho also questioned him about a mobile phone line which Chia had asked him to apply for, allegedly for Wong to make calls for free.

She asked Mr Tay if he knew the line was used by Chia and Wong to make business calls during their trip to China, and that Ms Xu also used it when she was in Singapore. Mr Tay said he was not aware of the details as Chia only told him the phone was given to Wong to call Ms Xu.

Ms Ho also questioned him about the employment of Wong's daughter-in-law Stella Le Thi Hien at 4-Ever Engineering.

The court earlier heard that her salary was reimbursed by 19-NS2, which Mr Tay said was Chia's idea.

Ms Ho put to Mr Tay that Wong would not have known about it until July 2016, when an e-mail from a 4-Ever employee about a workplace dispute involving Ms Le was copied to him. By then, Ms Le had worked at 4-Ever for about five months.

When cross-examined further, Mr Tay said the "twists and turns" of how Ms Le's job was arranged were questionable. He said Ms Le had initially wanted to work at 19-ANC. But one of its executives did not think it was a good idea should anyone find out that Wong's daughter-in-law was working there.

That led Chia to suggest 19-NS2 would pay her salary while she was employed by 4-Ever Engineering, Mr Tay had said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2018, with the headline '$20k remittance to accused's mistress partially repaid'. Print Edition | Subscribe