16 months' jail for businesswoman in $500k bribery case

A woman was yesterday sentenced to 16 months' jail for her role in a business arrangement that saw an associate receive nearly $500,000 in bribes.

Malaysian Chuah Hooi Fong, 59, had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of giving bribes to Leong Chee Shian, 50, a former IT director of logistics company Schenker (Asia Pacific).

This was done to advance the business interests of two firms - of which Chuah was both director and shareholder - with Schenker.

In 2008, Chuah agreed to handle the management and implementation of a project for Schenker through Asia Management Link (AML), a company where she is sole director and shareholder.

In 2010, Chuah proposed for Schenker to adopt a second project, which sought to better manage the company's printing requirements. She later handled the management and implementation of this project through a second company, AML Managed Services, where she is a director and shareholder.

An unrelated firm, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, was contracted to provide printers for the project. Under the contract, the fees paid by Schenker to Konica included a service fee for each page it printed.

Konica was then obliged under another contract to pay the service fee to AML Managed Services.

But the service fee was inflated, with the mark-up intended to go to Leong. This was part of a corrupt arrangement made in 2008 between Chuah and Leong, where the latter would be paid a share of profits earned by AML and AML Managed Services from the two projects.

In order to disguise the corrupt payments, Leong arranged for the sums to be paid to three companies, of which his brother was the director, as consultancy fees. The money was later passed to him.

Court documents state that Chuah paid a total of $484,289.30 in bribes to Leong between 2008 and 2012 under the arrangement.

In their submissions, deputy public prosecutors Vincent Ong, Charis Low and Kor Zhen Hong noted that the arrangement, at least relating to the second project, was structured so that Chuah would not bear the cost of the bribes - it would be paid out of Schenker's pocket instead.

Chuah's lawyer, Mr Edmond Pereira, said in mitigation that his client had initially rejected Leong's request for bribes, but later relented when she needed Leong's help to complete the projects in time.

District Judge Ronald Gwee accepted Chuah's request to defer her sentence to Feb 19, so that she can settle her companies' affairs.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2021, with the headline 16 months' jail for businesswoman in $500k bribery case. Subscribe