Town council ex-GM graft trial: Defence lawyer says half of $20,000 remitted to mistress was repaid


Prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan (left) had said earlier this week that the remittance arranged by his business partner, Chia Sin Lan (right), in June 2015 was "inappropriate" and a "form of bribery".
Prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan (left) had said earlier this week that the remittance arranged by his business partner, Chia Sin Lan (right), in June 2015 was "inappropriate" and a "form of bribery".PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - 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 on Thursday (Nov 15).

Ms Ho disclosed this in court while cross-examining prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan, in an ongoing bribery trial.

Mr Tay had said earlier this week that 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 (AMKTC), said $10,000 was returned to Chia in April 2016.

She, however, 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 incurred 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 on Thursday, the 10th day of the corruption trial, 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's free use.

She asked Mr Tay if he knew the line was used by both Chia and Wong to make business calls during their trip to China, and that Ms Xu also used the phone when in Singapore. Mr Tay said he was unaware of these details as Chia only told him the phone was given to Wong to call Ms Xu.

Another issue about which Ms Ho questioned him was 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 staff member 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" in how Ms Le's job was arranged was questionable.

He noted that 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 in 19-ANC.

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