Man jailed 4 months for role in cheating Football Association of Singapore

SINGAPORE - A man was sentenced to four months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to his role in cheating the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Shankar Suppiah, 45, admitted to five counts of cheating on Friday. He was the sole proprietor of All Resource Network (ARN), which has specialised in event management and the sale of sporting and recreational goods since 2017.

At the time of the offences, ARN was a supplier of the FAS, which is the Republic’s governing body for football and is responsible for advancing the sport here and managing the national team.

Rikram Jit Singh, 42, was handling commercial and business development as FAS’ deputy director, while his wife, Asya Kirin Kames, 35, set up ARN in 2014, before Shankar took over as its sole proprietor. Rikram and Shankar are childhood friends.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting said that some time in 2017, Rikram told Shankar that he and Asya were about to get married and that it would lead to a conflict of interest.

FAS’ regulations prohibit business transactions or contracts between those in positions of conflict of interest.

“In order to conceal such conflict of interest from FAS, Rikram asked Shankar to take over as sole proprietor of ARN, although he and Asya would continue to manage the company,” she said.

Shankar agreed to the arrangement so that ARN could continue dealing with the FAS.

DPP Ting said he did so because he felt that as Rikram’s friend, he could not reject the request. Shankar did not earn a salary for his role in ARN.

Shankar was also asked to open a corporate bank account under ARN’s name. While he was the sole owner and signatory of this account, it was managed by Rikram and Asya, who kept the Internet banking token, the court heard.

Shankar would on occasion sign cheques and withdraw cash from the account on instructions from the couple.

During this time, five ARN invoices amounting to $110,500 were submitted to FAS’ marketing department and, subsequently, the finance department.

“Shankar, Rikram and Asya thereby entered into a conspiracy to cheat FAS by submitting ARN invoices which dishonestly concealed Rikram’s interest in ARN. Had FAS known of Rikram’s interest in ARN, it would not have disbursed payment to ARN,” said DPP Ting.

Rikram and Asya have not been dealt with. They were each charged with 45 counts of cheating in December 2020.

Before meting out the sentence, Principal District Judge Victor Yeo noted that Shankar did not benefit financially from the conspiracy and accepted that he was genuinely remorseful for committing the offences.

Those who cheat may be jailed for up to three years and/or fined.

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