13 months' jail for 4th man involved in ruse that cheated WDA of $51,000

Lim Biao was sentenced on Feb 23 to 13 months' jail for the offences in 2016 against the WDA, now known as SkillsFuture Singapore. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A 29-year-old man has become the fourth person to be sent to jail for his involvement in a ruse that cheated the now-defunct Workforce Development Agency (WDA) of $51,000 in total.

Lim Biao, also known as Lim Qi Chuan, was sentenced on Tuesday (Feb 23) to 13 months' jail for the offences in 2016 against the WDA, now known as SkillsFuture Singapore.

He pleaded guilty to 19 counts of engaging in conspiracy to cheat involving $4,500 and one count of obstructing the course of justice.

Another 187 charges involving the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

Three other men had earlier been sentenced to between 24 weeks and two years' jail.

They were Muhammad Hakimmul Hisham Razni, 35, as well as Tay Sheng Yang and Ng Yong Jing, both 28.

The cases involving three alleged accomplices - Chia Bing Lun, 27; Sng Kee Jin, 28 and Joshua Tan Jun Liang, 29 - are still pending.

The ruse involved the SkillsFuture Credits (SFC) scheme, launched in January 2016 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skills development and lifelong learning.

It gave all Singaporeans aged 25 and older an opening credit of $500 in their SFC accounts, which could be used to pay for approved courses.

Between February and March 2016, the WDA approved funding under the SFC scheme of four courses conducted by two companies - A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

Tay was a director at both firms while Ng was the sole trainer at the companies.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Haniza Abnass and Pearly Ang stated in court documents that training providers under the scheme were not allowed to pay trainees from the disbursed funds or enter such agreements.

Despite this, Tay and Ng discussed an idea sometime in early 2016 to boost sales by paying monies to people who referred trainees to register for the courses.

Tay then spoke with Lim and they also talked about giving cash directly to trainees to increase sales.

In April 2016, a company known as C.G. Marketing (CGM) was formed with the sole purpose of promoting courses offered by A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

Lim was CGM's sole registered director and was paid a fee for his role. He worked with Tan to recruit their friends to sign up for courses by giving cashbacks.

WDA was later duped into delivering $250 to A.I. Industries for each claim made.

On June 1, 2016, the Commercial Affairs Department received a complaint from the WDA against A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

The WDA removed the two companies' courses from the SFC course directory a week later.

Tay and Ng were arrested at the Tuas Checkpoint in separate vehicles the following month.

The court heard that the accused persons have since fully compensated WDA.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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