Town council GM graft trial: Company director told business partner not to keep receipts of KTV sessions

Company director Chia Sin Lan, 63, on Nov 7, 2018. His companies - 19-ANC and 19-NS2 - each face one charge of corruption. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A company director on trial for alleged bribery had told his business partner not to keep any receipts of the drinking and karaoke sessions that he took a town council's former general manager to.

Chia Sin Lan, 63, also gave instructions to keep the remarks in a handwritten ledger of these expenses vague so that the authorities would not be able to find out easily about them, Mr Tay Eng Chuan, his partner, said in the State Court on Wednesday (Nov 7).

An entry on May 18, 2015, for $3,700, for example, would have the letters "F" and "V" beside them.

Mr Tay said the "F" indicated the flower garlands, or sashes, that were bought for KTV singers as tips for their good performance, while "V" meant Victor, or Wong Chee Meng, the former GM of Ang Mo Kio Town Council .

Both Chia and Wong, 58, are being tried for bribes amounting to more than $107,000, which Chia allegedly gave Wong for almost two years. This was in exchange for advancing the business interests of Chia's companies - 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise - which did work for town councils, such as repairs and redecoration.

On the first day of the trial's second tranche, Mr Tay, a former director of 19-NS2, took the stand and was questioned about his relationship with Chia.

Mr Tay told the court he and Chia jointly maintained and signed off on a handwritten record summarising 19-NS2's incoming funds and expenditure.

Mr Tay, who spoke in Mandarin and had a translator, said Chia would claim for expenses by showing him the bills for drinks and the "hanging of flowers".

Deputy Senior State Counsel Jiang Ke-Yue asked Mr Tay where these receipts were kept. Mr Tay replied that most of the receipts were lost and Chia told him to "destroy" them.

He also said it was Chia's idea to keep the remarks for the expenses vague "just in case... government officials came to check, they would not be able to easily find out the expenses incurred for the drinking and hanging of flowers".

The court also heard of Chinese New Year dinners that Mr Tay attended with Chia, Wong and other business associates, on two occasions, in 2015 and 2016.

Mr Tay said he met Wong's mistress Xu Hongmei at the 2015 outing. Among the 54 charges brought against Wong, three involve overseas remittances amounting to $30,600, which Chia allegedly gave to Ms Xu, who is from China.

Mr Tay said Wong first referred to Ms Xu as his "distant relative" but at a KTV session following dinner, he noticed that Wong would "hug, kiss and touch her" in front of others.

He also said the hostesses at Super Star KTV, in Newton, were very friendly towards Wong and greeted him as "Huang Zhong", meaning Wong, the general manager.

As a result, Mr Tay said he felt it was not Wong's first time at the KTV.

A year later, Mr Tay said the hostesses at the same KTV were also very friendly to Chia, and greeted him as "Xie Dong", which means Chia, the director. "I thought they patronised this place regularly," Mr Tay added.

Public prosecutors on Wednesday withdrew one charge each from Chia and Wong. This was for a hotel stay at Fragrance Hotel worth around $35, which Chia allegedly paid for Wong.

Like Wong, Chia also faces 54 charges. Chia's companies - 19-ANC and 19-NS2 - each face one charge of corruption.

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