8 months' jail for 2 men who bribed LTA director

Korean nationals Ro Sungyoung (left) and Kim Young-gyu were employees of Daewoo Engineering & Construction when they committed the offence.
Korean nationals Ro Sungyoung (left) and Kim Young-gyu were employees of Daewoo Engineering & Construction when they committed the offence.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two construction firm employees who gave bribes to a Land Transport Authority (LTA) deputy group director were jailed for eight months on Tuesday (May 18).

Kim Young-Gyu, 52, and Ro Sungyoung, 49 - the project director and the project manager at Daewoo Engineering and Construction respectively - pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge each of conspiring to bribe Henry Foo Yung Thye with $30,000.

A second charge against each of the men, involving a loan of $20,000, was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Kim and Ro, who are both South Korean, are the first to be sentenced in an extensive corruption case, in which Foo, who was overseeing the construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line and Cross-Island Line, is accused of receiving a total of $1.24 million in bribes.

In sentencing the duo, District Judge Jill Tan said that while Kim and Ro did not actively seek to cultivate a relationship with Foo, they gave bribes to benefit themselves. She noted that they did ask for Foo's assistance to cover up cleanliness infringements and obtain confidential information.

The court heard that the duo worked on the construction of Stevens MRT station, after the tender was awarded to Daewoo in April 2014. Ro was responsible for liaising with the company's clients and reported to Kim.

They started communicating frequently with Foo, who was in charge of the construction project, in 2015.

In mid-2018, Foo told Ro that he had financial problems and asked for a loan. Ro relayed the request to Kim, who rejected the notion initially.

Kim knew that Daewoo had strong compliance policies prohibiting the payment of money to clients. He also knew that such payments would be against Singapore law.

After Foo made further requests to Ro, Kim instructed his colleague to reject Foo on the pretext that Daewoo was having financial difficulties.

But the two men later decided they could no longer deny Foo's request for a loan, and they hoped that it would put them on friendly terms with him and facilitate the smooth progress of the project.

They also hoped that it would put Daewoo in a better position to be awarded future contracts by LTA, compared with other contractors who had not given money to Foo.

On Dec 6, 2018, Ro transferred $30,000 to two bank accounts - one held by Foo and the other held jointly by Foo and his wife - in four separate payments. The court heard that Foo did not repay the sum despite mentioning that he would.

Ro asked Foo for help in May 2019 after an LTA officer gave Daewoo a negative score for safety and cleanliness infringements at the Stevens MRT station work site.

Ro was worried that the score would affect Daewoo's bid for a project on the Jurong Region Line.

Foo said he would speak to LTA's group director of safety and contract, but his intervention did not help and Daewoo was not awarded the contract.

In August 2019, Ro asked Foo why Daewoo had failed in the first stage of a tender process for the construction of tunnels at Changi Airport.

Foo sent Ro a screenshot of the LTA tender evaluation committee's assessment and told him not to forward it to anyone.

Kim, Ro and Foo were nabbed when the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau learnt of the corruption.

Foo faces 36 charges for corruption and cheating. His case is pending before the courts.