16 months' jail for woman involved in business deal that paid out nearly $500k in bribes

Malaysian Chuah Hooi Fong had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of giving bribes to Leong Chee Shian.
Malaysian Chuah Hooi Fong had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of giving bribes to Leong Chee Shian.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A woman was on Tuesday (Feb 9) sentenced to 16 months' jail for her role in a business arrangement which saw an associate receive nearly $500,000 in bribes between 2008 and 2012.

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 companies that Chuah was director and shareholder of, which were each involved in a project with Schenker.

Five other corruption charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Ronald Gwee during sentencing on Tuesday.

Court documents state that Chuah became acquainted with Leong in 2007 while she was working as a sales director in Saperion, a company dealing with software.

At that time, Leong was responsible for implementing a project that sought to digitise Schenker's records and process data into formats which satisfied the requirements of different countries in which it operated. The company procured Saperion's software for the project.

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

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 of which she is a shareholder - AML Managed Services.

An unrelated company, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (Konica), was contracted to provide the 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 in fact inflated, with the mark-up intended to go to Leong.

This was part of a corrupt arrangement made between Chuah and Leong in 2008, where he 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 transferred to him.

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

In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Vincent Ong, Charis Low and Kor Zhen Hong noted that Chuah's offences were motivated by personal financial gain.

"The corrupt arrangement, at least relating to the (2010) project, was structured so that Chuah would not bear the cost of the bribes - it would be paid out of Schenker's pocket via a mark-up in (AML Managed Services') service fee," they said.

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

Leong's case is still pending.