Checkpoint officer gets eight months for taking bribes to grant 30-day social visit passes to club hostesses

Catherine Lim Zhi Yin was jailed for eight months for accepting money to grant 30-day social visit passes to Thai women.
Catherine Lim Zhi Yin was jailed for eight months for accepting money to grant 30-day social visit passes to Thai women.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A checkpoint officer who corruptly accepted and agreed to accept money for granting 30-day social visit passes to 28 Thai women was jailed for eight months on Monday (Feb 26).

Catherine Lim Zhi Yin, 27, a sergeant attached to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at Woodlands Checkpoint, admitted to three charges of corruptly accepting a total of $960 from co-accused Raymond Lim Boon Ian, 37, to grant social visit passes to 16 of the women.

Raymond Lim, whose wife Manetchai Benja was working as a mamasan, has been dealt with.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani said Manetchai first asked Catherine Lim some time in 2012 if she could "chop passport", which Lim understood to mean endorsing the entry of club hostesses whom Manetchai was managing. Lim rejected the request.

But in November 2014, Lim agreed to Manetchai's request and was taken to meet Raymond Lim, whom she recognised as being an agent for Thai hostesses. He offered to pay her $50 for each successful "U-turn". The informal term refers to a situation where a non-Singaporean citizen leaves Singapore for a short period of time and then returns shortly to extend her stay.

Under the arrangement, Raymond Lim would message the checkpoint officer on WhatsApp when he needed a U-turn. She would check her work schedule and message him, Manetchai and a man known as Ong Xiang Ren the counter number she would be at.

The first U-turn took place on Dec 7, 2014, when Lim facilitated the entry of three Thai hostesses. She received $180, being $60 for each U-turn instead of the previously agreed $50.

Six days later, she cleared the entry of a total of eight Thai hostesses and received another $480 from Raymond Lim.

She received a further $300 after facilitating the entry of five Thai women on Dec 21.

Four other charges, including two of agreeing to accept $60 and $360 from Raymond Lim in February 2015, were taken into consideration in sentencing.

In mitigation, Lim's lawyer Kalaithasan Karuppaya said his client, who has been interdicted from service since March 7, 2015, had voluntarily surrendered $1,260. He also said she wished to put the incident behind her and start her life afresh.

Lim could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years on each charge.