Town council ex-GM graft trial: Company car allegedly sold at discount for 'chance' to win contracts

Mr Tay Eng Chuan (left) told the court he was stunned when Chia Sin Lan told him a debit card that was registered to his own company was being used to entertain Wong Chee Meng, who is on trial for corruption charges, at dinner and karaoke sessions.
Mr Tay Eng Chuan (left) told the court he was stunned when Chia Sin Lan told him a debit card that was registered to his own company was being used to entertain Wong Chee Meng, who is on trial for corruption charges, at dinner and karaoke sessions.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A businessman, accused of bribery, told his business partner that a car belonging to his company had been sold at a discount to a town council’s then-general manager, so that they would have a “chance” of winning contracts, a court heard on Tuesday (Nov 13).

Chia Sin Lan, 63, director of 19-ANC Enterprise, allegedly disclosed this to Mr Tay Eng Chuan in 2015, while they were at a spa.

Mr Tay, a witness, said: “He (Chia) told me he sold the car below the market price to Victor... (so that) even if we were the second-lowest bidder for tender contracts, there will be a chance it will still be awarded to us.”

The conversation took place some months after the Toyota Corolla Altis was sold to Wong Chee Meng, he added. Wong, 58, the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC), is also known as Victor.

Both Chia and Wong are on trial for alleged corruption involving bribes of more than $107,000, which Chia is accused of giving Wong over almost two years up to 2016. Prosecutors said this was in exchange for advancing the business interests of Chia’s companies: 19-ANC and 19-NS2 Enterprise.

On Tuesday, the eighth day of the corruption trial, Mr Tay said Ms Alisa Yip, a project director with 19-ANC, informed him via a text message, of Wong’s intention to buy the Altis car that she was driving. Mr Tay wrote in Chinese to Ms Yip, saying there was “a problem with the procedure and to be careful”.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jiang Ke-Yue what he meant, Mr Tay said: “I realised that there is a gap between the car’s price and the market value... I was wary about Victor being AMKTC’s general manager, and I was afraid there might be a conflict of interest.” Based on court documents, Wong had allegedly got a $13,500 discount on the Altis.

 
 
 
 

DPP Jiang also asked Mr Tay what he meant a day earlier in court, when he described a remittance of $20,000 to Wong’s mistress in China as a “risky” move.

Mr Tay replied: “I feel this is inappropriate. The money remitted is not for business but is a form of bribery.”

He had also begun “to feel a little afraid” because a debit card Chia had told him to apply for in the name of his company - Tay Eng Khuan General Contractors - was being used to entertain Wong at dinner and karaoke sessions.

Similarly, a mobile phone, that Chia had asked him to apply for, was allegedly passed to Wong for him to call his mistress in China, he added.

The court also heard of a workplace dispute in 2016 involving Wong’s daughter-in-law, Stella Le Thi Hien, who worked at a company called 4-Ever Engineering. It was allegedly Chia’s idea to have her employed there, with her salary paid by 19-NS2.

An e-mail was sent by a 4-Ever staffer over the argument and copied to various parties, including Wong. It also mentioned how Mr Tay had given 4-Ever cash for Ms Le’s salary every month.

Mr Tay told Chia that in the face of so much trouble there would be no happiness even if their companies made a lot of money.

Asked by DPP Jiang what he meant, Mr Tay said: “Many things happening inside (the company) are dishonest or involve some sort of bribery... I do not know when I may be questioned or convicted. Even if we earn and spend the money, this will not be ‘happy’, as this is immoral, dirty money.”

The trial resumes on Wednesday.