8 weeks' jail for man who cheated e2i of more than $25,000 in public funds

Wang Fengli was sentenced to 8 weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of cheating. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A businessman who took part in an initiative managed by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) submitted false information to the organisation in order to mislead it into disbursing public funds totalling more than $25,000 to his firm.

At the time of the offence, Wang Fengli was the sole proprietor of a company called Ju Xin Yuan that owned a Jurong East restaurant, operating under the name Ji Pin Xiang Dong Bei Cai Guan.

The 45-year-old Singaporean was sentenced on Tuesday (Jan 28) to eight weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of cheating.

Wang had applied for the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) in 2014. The scheme is managed by e2i, an organisation under the National Trades Union Congress.

Court documents state that IGP provided grants to small business owners if they purchased IT equipment and technology to increase the productivity of the businesses, "leading to higher gains and increased wages for the low-wage workers" they employ.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui said that funds for the IGP were provided by Spring Singapore, a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Spring Singapore has since been merged with International Enterprise Singapore, with the new agency named Enterprise Singapore.

The DPP added: "When small businesses apply for a grant from the IGP, the grant amount will given to them based on the project cost, the number of low-wage workers benefiting from the project and the salary increment to the low-wage workers... e2i will disburse the IGP grant for every successful application in two tranches.

"The first tranche will be 30 per cent of the total grant, with the remaining 70 per cent to be paid out in the second tranche."

The court heard that in 2014, Wang met businessman William Zhu Jiongwei, the sole proprietor of a firm called Arcens that sold IT equipment.

Mr Zhu told Wang that he would help the latter apply for an IGP grant if Wang agreed to buy IT equipment and technology from Arcens.

Wang agreed with the proposal and in November that year, he submitted to e2i a project proposal for the purchase of a "mobile ordering and good inventory management system" as he wanted to apply for the grant.

The equipment for the project would then be purchased from Arcens, the court heard.

But Wang lied in the proposal, claiming that his firm would increase the monthly salary of 15 full-time, local low-wage workers it employed.

DPP Chong told District Judge Ong Luan Tze that in reality, Ju Xin Yuan had only 12 full-time, local low-wage workers.

e2i approved Wang's proposal and it later disbursed more than $25,000 in total to his firm in two tranches.

Court documents did not state how Wang's ruse came to light. He has since returned the whole sum.

Wang is now out on bail of $15,000 and will surrender himself at the State Courts on Feb 4 to begin serving his sentence. Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to three years and fined.

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