Man jailed 14 months, ordered to pay $686,400 for submitting false PIC claims

SINGAPORE - A 47-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 14 months' jail and ordered to pay $686,400 in penalties on Wednesday (Jan 8) for submitting false claims for Government payouts to several companies.

Loh Gai Kuang Dezmond, the director of a company purporting to be in the business of creating websites, was found to have wilfully made fraudulent claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme.

These were made on behalf of his own company, Bedezzled Media, and other firms, including ones headed by his mother and by his friend.

It was found that Bedezzled Media's only business activity was to assist Loh in making these illegitimate applications.

PIC granted subsidies or cash to companies that invested in innovation and productivity improvements, and was disbursed by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).

In total, Loh masterminded the submission of 10 false PIC claims worth $543,159 between September 2013 and April 2014. Two of these were successful, resulting in $80,109 being disbursed by Iras.

Loh had made a claim on behalf of his mother, the director of Kwong Tai Heng, a soya bean drink and soy product stall she ran with her husband.

In 2013, Loh told his mother, who has limited ability to speak, read and write English, about the PIC scheme and encouraged her to allow him to assist the stall in submitting a PIC application.

She then signed the forms at his behest.

The court said Loh knew that the stall did not qualify for the PIC scheme, having not incurred the qualifying expenditure and not employed the requisite three employees.

Loh, however, went ahead and falsely declared Kwong Tai Heng's expenditure and employees.

This application, which would have qualified Kwong Tai Heng for a PIC payout of $60,000, was rejected by Iras.

Loh's mother and Kwong Tai Heng will be dealt with separately.

In another case, Loh made an application on behalf of his 33-year-old friend, the director of an interior design and renovations company, STWO.

He told his friend about the PIC scheme during a mahjong game, and negotiated with her that she should pay him a percentage of the PIC payout secured.

Again, STWO did not qualify for the PIC scheme, having not met criteria for both business expenditure and the number of employees, and Iras rejected its application for a $60,000 payout.

STWO and Loh's friend will be dealt with separately.

Loh was convicted of three counts of submitting false information to obtain PIC cash payouts and bonuses totalling $171,600.

He was ordered to pay $686,400 - four times the amount that he had wrongfully claimed, said Iras.

Seven other similar charges were taken into consideration by the court in Loh's sentencing. His company, Bedezzled Media, has since been dissolved.

Those found guilty of PIC abuse will have to pay a penalty of up to four times the amount of cash payout fraudulently obtained.

They can also be fined up to $50,000, jailed up to five years, or both.

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