Dentist duped CPF board into disbursing over $400k from patients' Medisave accounts

Steven Ang Kiam Hau pleaded guilty on May 4, 2018, to 30 cheating charges involving five patients and $65,858.

SINGAPORE - A dentist came up with a bogus claims scam that saw more than $400,000 from his patients' Medisave accounts paid to the clinic where he worked.

Dentist Steven Ang Kiam Hau would offer underprivileged patients lower rates than those charged at other clinics before making dishonest claims from their Medisave accounts with their consent.

But his company's managing director allegedly decided to open the scheme to others when he found out.

Ang, 43, admitted in a district court that he had duped the Central Provident Fund (CPF) board into disbursing $434,241 from 14 patients' Medisave accounts to The Smile Division Surgeons @ Orchard.

He pleaded guilty on Friday (May 4) to 30 cheating charges involving five patients and $65,858. Another 253 charges for similar offences involving the remaining amount will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Ang joined Smile in 2007 and came up with the scheme two years later.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew explained that documents need to be prepared before submitting each Medisave claim. They include a letter of certification, in which a medical practitioner certifies that a procedure was performed and the fees to be charged are payable.

Ang would certify on them that day operations had been performed on multiple dates when in fact, they were all done in a single day, or two at most. As a result the CPF board would be induced into disbursing multiple claim amounts to his Lucky Plaza clinic.

When a new patient came to him, Ang would conduct a consultation, give a diagnosis and provide a rough estimate of how much the treatment would cost.

During financial counselling, Ang's staff would ask the patient to show their Medisave account balance by logging on to the CPF board's website.

If the patient was unable to pay cash, they would be offered a package in which the Smile Division Dental Group would treat them at rates lower than those charged elsewhere.

If the patient agreed to utilise their Medisave savings, Ang would perform the treatment and arrange for it to be claimed in full, or almost in full, from Medisave.

DPP Teo said that for dental implants, Ang "would submit, on behalf of the patient, multiple Medisave claims based on fictitious surgery dates on which no surgery was in fact carried out, so as to circumvent the withdrawal limits".

The prosecutor also said that Ang's share of the net fees was 56 per cent while Smile was entitled to the rest,

The dental group's managing director Cecil Goh Chin Chye, 48, found about about the scheme in 2011 and saw it as a means to attract more patients, the court heard.

Goh and Ang agreed that the scheme should continue at the Lucky Plaza clinic and it would no longer be restricted to underprivileged patients.

Goh is also said to have decided to implement this scheme in other Smile clinics and encouraged dentists to adopt it. The offences came to light after the Ministry of Health made a police report on July 14, 2014, following an audit.

DPP Teo said that Ang paid more than $535,000 to the CPF board on Dec 21 last year, which included the initial amount plus four per cent interest per annum.

This was later disbursed to the affected patients' Medisave accounts.

Cases involving Goh, Smile's practice manager Yeo Meow Koon, 47, and another TSD dentist Daniel Liew Yaoxiang, 36, are still pending.

Ang is out on bail of $250,000 and will be back in court on June 26.

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