Director at first denied giving bribes to town council ex-GM

Company director Chia Sin Lan (top) faces 54 counts of bribing Wong Chee Meng (above), the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council. Wong faces 55 charges for receiving bribes.
Company director Chia Sin Lan (left) faces 54 counts of bribing Wong Chee Meng (right), the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council. Wong faces 55 charges for receiving bribes.

A company director on trial for allegedly giving bribes totalling more than $107,000 to a former town council general manager changed his tune a day after giving his statement to an anti-graft investigator.

Chia Sin Lan, 63, told a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officer on Oct 5, 2016 that he had thought about his family and decided to "tell the truth", the court heard yesterday.

The previous day, he had denied giving money to the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council, Wong Chee Meng.

Chia told CPIB principal special investigator Keith Peh on Oct 5 that he had actually given $20,000 to the mistress of Wong, 58.

Both Chia and Wong are on trial for corruption.

Chia, who is facing 54 counts of bribing Wong to advance the interests of his companies, also said he had paid for all the entertainment expenses incurred when he went on two trips to China with Wong in 2016.

In his initial statement, he had said they took turns to foot the bill.

These and other details emerged when Mr Peh took the stand, on the second day of trial into the gratifications which Chia had allegedly provided to Wong for almost two years, up to 2016.

Wong faces 55 charges for receiving the bribes, with the "lion's share" of the gratifications - or close to $53,000 - going to entertainment expenses incurred by the two accused at various KTV lounges and massage parlours, the prosecution said.

During the period when Wong received the gratifications, Chia's companies - 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise - were given tenders and contracts worth millions of dollars by Ang Mo Kio Town Council, the prosecution added.

 
 
 

These were for projects such as repair and redecoration of Housing Board blocks.

The court heard that Chia had set up 19-NS2 to take on subcontracted jobs from 19-ANC, thus allowing him to bid for projects of a bigger scale. He was paid a monthly salary of about $10,000 by 19-ANC and $5,000 by 19-NS2.

In his statement recorded by Mr Peh, Chia also said he was approached by Wong to find a job for his daughter-in-law Le Thi Hien. He did so, with a subcontractor of 19-ANC and 19-NS2. Ms Le's salary, however, was paid by Chia and his business associate Tay Eng Chuan, a director of 19-NS2.

Earlier yesterday, Wong's lawyer Melanie Ho, of WongPartnership, told the State Court that Wong had forked out more than $10,000 from his own pocket to pay the bills when he went drinking with Chia. Ms Ho disclosed this while cross-examining CPIB's chief special investigator Tan Jun Kiat.

She said Wong had told the CPIB he had attempted to pay for the entertainment sessions with Chia and his associates, and did so on a few occasions.

She then asked Mr Tan why he did not verify this further when taking Wong's statement in 2016.

Mr Tan said he did not do it as Wong was unable to show proof that he had paid for the expenses, adding that he was unaware if this was later verified by other CPIB colleagues. The trial continues today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'Director at first denied giving bribes to town council ex-GM'. Print Edition | Subscribe