Chevron's health and safety specialist admits taking $6,000 bribes to be lenient to sub-contractor

Cheow Hock Mun pleaded guilty to two charges of corruption on Oct 9, 2020. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A health, environment and safety specialist with Chevron Singapore accepted $6,000 in bribes from a sub-contractor in return for being lenient in supervising his work on the company's lube oil blending plant.

Cheow Hock Mun, 49, a permanent resident, pleaded guilty on Friday (Oct 9) to two charges of corruption. Another corruption charge will be taken into consideration during sentencing next month.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eric Hu said Cheow had accepted the money from Lim Gim Chuan, the managing director of LGC Engineering and Contractors between April and July, 2015.

Cheow was in charge of all safety and security matters at the Chevron's plant in Jalan Buroh, and oversaw the issuing of permits and training of workers at the plant.

There were occasions when he did not approve permits to workers and made several safety checks on site, "many of which were not mandated or required", said DPP Hu, adding that Cheow had also refused to conduct training for some workers.

The court heard that Cheow had also stopped work for two to three hours and directed materials to be moved to a warehouse, even though these could be barricaded and placed near an excavation site.

"Lim was aware that Cheow was the overall-in-charge of safety at the Lube Oil Blending Plant, and that he had the authority to make things difficult by not approving the permits for his workers or by finding faults with them in safety aspects," said DPP Hu, adding that this would eventually cause delays and financial losses for Lim's company.

Sometime in April 2015, Lim asked to meet Cheow at the canteen of the oil plant where he offered Cheow $2,000 and asked him to "give a helping hand" in Hokkien, said DPP Hu.

Cheow understood that Lim had meant for him to ensure a "smooth operation" of his company's works at the oil plant and agreed.

They went to the toilet beside the canteen where Lim passed Cheow $2,000.

Lim gave Cheow money on two more occasions, each time passing him $2,000.

Cheow subsequently approved permits and the commencement of work by Lim's company without being difficult. He also helped to speed up the endorsement of documents for Lim's company, and conducted additional training for his workers.

"At all times, Cheow knew it was wrong to obtain bribes from the sub-contractor. He knew that he would be dismissed from his company immediately, if he was found out," said DPP Hu.

Cheow will return to court next month for his sentencing. Lim was jailed 10 weeks' in June for his involvement in corruption.

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