Businessman jailed 16 months for cheating contractor of $140,436

SINGAPORE - A businessman said he was a consultant for the Parkway Novena Hospital construction project and got a contractor to hand over $140,436 as refundable tender deposits.

But Lim Chee Yam, 67, was neither a consultant of the project, nor did he submit the money to the developers.

The owner of consultancy Asia Finders was sentenced to 16 months' jail on Thursday after admitting to cheating Mr Tng Kay Lim, managing director of Kay Lim Construction & Trading.

Lim is already serving time for a previous cheating conviction. He was sentenced to 18 months' jail last November for cheating two others of $68,800 but he began his sentence only in June after losing his appeal.

He will start his latest sentence on completion of his earlier one.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Francis Zhang Zeyi said in court on Thursday that Lim had been introduced to Mr Tng in July 2009 by a mutual acquaintance Jimmy Ng.

Lim, who claimed to be a consultant to the developer of the Parkway project, asked Mr Tng if he was keen to get Kay Lim to be the project's main contractor.

Mr Tng showed Lim the company profile and the latter stated that Kay Lim was suitable to tender for the project.

In August that year, Lim told Mr Tng a refundable tender deposit of $38,500 should be handed to him, and he would submit it to the developers.

He also claimed he could negotiate with the developers and ensure that Kay Lim would be selected as the main contractor.

Mr Tng, who accepted the proposal, handed a cheque made payable to Asia Finders on Sept 29 to Lim through Mr Ng.

In early December that year, Lim told Mr Tng another $101,936 was required as competitors were paying higher deposits.

Lim has still not returned the money.

Three other similar charges involving a total of $116,400 were considered during his sentencing.

Lim's lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam said his client was extremely remorseful and had had time to reflect on his actions since he was jailed. He said Lim, who has high blood pressure, has learnt his lesson and reformed.

DPP Zhang said while Lim may be remorseful now, he had been delaying the matter for the past two years and insisted on claiming trial to all the charges. So his remorse should not be given much weight as a mitigating factor.

Lim could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each cheating charge.