Couple cheated MHA over 3 years by submitting fake quotations for building works

Cheow Boon Peng (right) was convicted on 10 cheating charges, while Kuan Pooi Yee was convicted on three. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A couple cheated numerous departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over a period of three years by submitting fake quotations alongside their own.

Cheow Boon Peng, 43, and his wife, Kuan Pooi Yee, 37, conspired as general manager and director of Buildforms Construction respectively, netting themselves $165,000 worth of jobs from MHA departments, from 2012 to 2014.

On Wednesday (Sept 29), they were both convicted after admitting to their conspiracy.

Cheow was convicted of 10 cheating charges, while Kuan was convicted of three.

In December 2011, Buildforms became the sole sub-contractor for all MHA building works at its West Zone properties.

MHA departments in that zone included the Singapore Police Force, Home Team Academy, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and Singapore Civil Defence Force.

As part of this arrangement, Buildforms was to source for three quotations for certain works.

These jobs would be awarded to the lowest priced quotation that met MHA's requirements and offered the best value for money.

Cheow and Kuan had initially attempted to obtain genuine quotations from other sub-contractors through Buildforms Construction.

But the sub-contractors did not always respond.

In January 2012, Cheow came up with the idea to prepare fake quotations from other companies to be submitted together with Buildforms' own.

His plan was to have Buildforms' quotation be the lowest bid, ensuring the firm would be awarded the jobs.

Cheow then taught Kuan how to prepare fake quotations from other companies and she in turn taught some of Buildforms' admin staff to do this.

The fake quotations were created under the letterheads of Gecko Design and Woodworks, E/S Cleaning and Maintenance Enterprise, and Air Builder.

The admin staff would obtain the letterheads of these companies to create fake documents.

The staff made a fake stamp bearing the name of Gecko Design and Woodworks, which was used to stamp the fake quotation documents.

In the case of the other two companies, the staff would superimpose the company stamps on the documents before photocopying them, making it look like the company stamp was genuinely stamped on the fake quotation.

MHA departments would sometimes ask Buildforms to provide supporting correspondence with the companies that had purportedly submitted quotations.

To get around this, Cheow created fake e-mail accounts to generate false e-mail threads, teaching the admin staff to do the same.

In this way, MHA departments were deceived and awarded numerous jobs to Buildforms from January 2012 to November 2014.

It was not revealed in court how the conspiracy was finally uncovered.

Eight of the charges Cheow was convicted of involved dishonestly inducing a delivery of property, which is a charge with significantly higher penalties.

Cheow and Kuan each face a total of 62 cheating charges. Their remaining charges will be taken into consideration for sentencing.

The cases have been adjourned for mitigation and sentencing on Oct 29.

Those convicted of cheating may be fined and jailed for up to three years per charge.

Those convicted of cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property may be fined and jailed for up to 10 years per charge.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.