Bus firm operator jailed for cheating schools

Adrian Lee Chong Boon said he had a fleet of 237 buses when Sindoz Group had only one vehicle - a Toyota Hiace van - to ferry clients.
Adrian Lee Chong Boon said he had a fleet of 237 buses when Sindoz Group had only one vehicle - a Toyota Hiace van - to ferry clients.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

He duped principals for transport contracts and failed to deliver

Transport company Sindoz Group had only one vehicle - a Toyota Hiace van - to ferry clients. But that did not deter Sindoz director, Adrian Lee Chong Boon, from claiming that he had a fleet of 237 buses in documents submitted when two primary schools separately invited vendors to tender bids for an official school bus operator.

The principals of Red Swastika School and Coral Primary School were duped into awarding contracts to Sindoz, which then failed to provide the necessary transport services. As a result, the management committee of Red Swastika School, which is government-aided, had to pay $48,380 for a replacement bus transport provider. Similarly, Coral Primary, a government school, had to pay $10,450 to engage the services of another firm.

Yesterday, Lee, 41, was sentenced to a year's jail and fined $4,000. District Judge Kessler Soh had found him guilty in April of two cheating charges and one count of criminal breach of trust. He was convicted after a 10-day trial.

Judge Soh also ordered Lee to pay compensation totalling $58,830 and he will have to spend an additional five months behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount. In their submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutors Eugene Sng and Victoria Ting said that on July 21, 2014, the administrative manager of Red Swastika School e-mailed an invitation to Sindoz to quote for the provision of transport services for its pupils for the 2015 academic year.

Lee then submitted a set of documents to the school claiming that his firm had 237 buses. The contract was later awarded to Sindoz.

From Nov 14, 2014, the firm began collecting money from parents who wished to engage its services for their children. Red Swastika School later found out that about 250 parents engaged Sindoz's services and about $49,000 was paid to the company.

However, despite repeated queries from the school, Sindoz was unable to provide full information regarding bus routes as well as pick-up and drop-off times.

Red Swastika School terminated the contract on Dec 31, 2014, and made arrangements with another bus transport provider.

Using a similar method, Lee also duped the principal of Coral Primary in the same year and his firm later collected $3,790 from parents for its services.

Sindoz's services were engaged for 26 pupils who were supposed to be transported in two buses. But on the first day of school on Jan 2, 2015, the firm deployed its only vehicle - the Toyota Hiace van - to do the job.

Coral Primary terminated its contract that day and made arrangements with another bus provider.

During the trial, Lee insisted that he had a fleet of 237 buses, saying that he was referring to the buses owned by his contacts as well. His lawyer, Mr T.M. Sinnadurai, told Judge Soh yesterday that his client would be appealing against his conviction and sentence. Lee is now out on bail of $30,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Bus firm operator jailed for cheating schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe