48 weeks' jail for dental clinic manager involved in Medisave scam

Yeo Meow Koon had also admitted to two counts of conspiring with another dentist to forge medical documents. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The practice manager of a dental clinic group, involved in a conspiracy with three dentists to cheat the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board by submitting fraudulent Medisave claims, was jailed for 48 weeks on Tuesday (June 23).

Yeo Meow Koon, 50, had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring with dentist Cecil Goh Chin Chye to cheat the CPF Board into disbursing $288,900 from his patients' Medisave accounts between 2011 and 2013.

She had also admitted to two counts of conspiring with another dentist, Daniel Liew Yaoxiang, to forge medical documents which were submitted for Ministry of Health (MOH) audits.

Two other charges related to conspiring with Liew and the third dentist, Steven Ang Kiam Hau, were taken into consideration during sentencing.

All three were dentists at separate dental surgery clinics of The Smile Division Dental Group (TSD), where Goh was also the managing director. The dental group had nine clinics between 2011 and 2013.

The scheme to cheat the CPF Board was devised by Ang in 2009 and involved submitting fraudulent Medisave claims on behalf of TSD's patients for dental procedures performed on them.

The Straits Times had previously reported that Ang offered less well-off patients lower rates for day surgery than those charged by other clinics.

He would certify that dental procedures had been performed on their patients on numerous dates, even though they were all done on a single day or, at most, two days.

This was to circumvent the daily Medisave withdrawal limits set by the MOH and allow patients to use their Medisave to pay for the treatments in full.

TSD would then make multiple claims and receive the amounts from the patients' Medisave accounts.

Goh found out about what Ang was doing and decided to offer the scheme to his own patients. Liew took part in the ruse when he joined the firm.

Court documents state that the treating dentist would receive a percentage for the fees collected from each patient, after costs incidental to the surgery such as anaesthesia and laboratory fees have been deducted from the initial fee amount.

For their roles in the scheme, Ang was jailed for 2 ½ years in 2018 while Liew was jailed for two years in May 2019. Goh's case is still pending.

The court heard earlier that Yeo worked with another colleague, identified only as Rathika, to prepare the relevant claim documents for Ang and Liew's patients. For Goh's patients, his personal assistant would send the documents to Yeo and Rathika instead.

Yeo initially submitted the claims via online herself, but later delegated it to Rathika.

The practice manager also instructed other clinic staff about the scheme, which entailed ensuring that the unique serial numbers associated with each claim were not in sequential order so as to reduce the likelihood of suspicion by the authorities.

Goh made 210 dishonest Medisave claims for nine of his patients between February 2011 and May 2013, which resulted in the CPF Board wrongfully disbursing a total amount of $288,900.

This depleted his patients' Medisave accounts by about 57 per cent to 100 per cent, according to court documents.

Yeo also assisted Liew in forging the clinical notes of a patient between October and November 2012, and of another in November 2013.

In both instances, the clinical notes of the respective patient were required to be submitted as part of a MOH audit on Medisave claims submitted by TSD.

As the genuine clinical notes would not have tallied with the false Medisave claims submitted for the patients, Yeo helped Liew with preparing another version of the notes. She even obtained a false set of radiographs for one patient.

The false notes were then submitted to the MOH in place of the genuine ones.

MOH eventually lodged a police report in July 2014, after its suspicions were raised via an earlier audit.

Earlier in court, Yeo's lawyer said in mitigation that his client was an "administrative cog" and did not benefit from the scam.

For conspiring to cheat the CPF Board, Yeo could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined. She could also be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each forgery-related charge.

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