Ex-forklift operator jailed for corruption

Zhao Yucun, who got over $10,000 in bribes, was jailed for four months and ordered to pay a penalty of $10,863.
Zhao Yucun, who got over $10,000 in bribes, was jailed for four months and ordered to pay a penalty of $10,863.

Truck drivers had to give him bribes to jump queue when collecting or returning containers

A forklift operator accepted bribes from truck drivers so that they could jump the queue when collecting or returning containers, and he received more than $10,000 from them over nearly five years.

Chinese national Zhao Yucun, 43, whose work permit has since been cancelled, was jailed for four months yesterday after he pleaded guilty to a corruption charge.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $10,863 and will have to spend an additional two weeks behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.

Zhao, who worked for Cogent Container Depot which provides container storage services, was the second forklift operator from the firm to be dealt with in court this year for taking bribes.

Another Chinese national, Chen Ziliang, 47, was jailed for two months and ordered to pay a penalty of $4,870.50 on Jan 10 after admitting to a similar offence. Chen had collected nearly $5,000 from the truck drivers.

Yesterday, the court heard that those who did not bribe Zhao had to endure a longer waiting time.

He committed his offences between Sept 2, 2013 and March 12 last year, collecting up to $10 in bribes daily.

 

As a forklift operator, he received a monthly salary of $1,430 and worked six days a week from Monday to Saturday.

He was first deployed at Cogent's container yard in Jalan Terusan, near Jurong Port Road, from September 2013 to November 2017. After that, he worked at the firm's other container yard in Buroh Crescent near Pioneer Road.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Siok Chen said forklift operators are not allowed to receive monies from truck drivers when carrying out their duties.

However, Zhao collected money from them despite knowing that he was not allowed to do so.

DPP Ang added: "The truck drivers would place coins at the mudguard of the forklift that the accused was operating. Then, he would collect these coins during his break and keep them in his pocket.

"Truck drivers who gave monies to the accused would be allowed to jump the queue for the collection or return of containers, whereas those who did not would have to wait longer as the accused would delay their collection or return of containers."

On Oct 20, 2017, a truck driver complained to Chen about the long waiting time to get served. Chen replied that the norm was to give him $1 or risk having to wait longer in the queue.

Court documents did not state if the driver alerted the authorities but the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau conducted a raid at the yard on March 12 last year.

Officers then apprehended Zhao and Chen.

Offenders convicted of corruption can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-forklift operator jailed for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe