Ex-funeral director jailed for taking bribes from competitor

Dissatisfied with his pay, a former director of Direct Funeral Services betrayed his company and accepted bribes from a competitor.

Sunny Thng Poh Leong, 47, agreed to channel customers to Funeral Hub for a 5 per cent cut of funeral packages sold - part of an agreement with the firm's founder, Lim Eng Soon.

On Tuesday, Thng was sentenced to four weeks in jail for one count of corruptly accepting gratification from Lim, 58, whose case is pending.

Thng's sentence would come with an additional 16 days of imprisonment as he told the court he was unable to pay the $3,520 penalty imposed.

Lim set up Funeral Hub in October 2018, but lacked the contacts or skills to commence business, according to court documents.

The following month, Thng approached him with a plan to set up a new funeral services firm because he was disgruntled with the pay he was receiving from his own company. His role in Direct Funeral included generating sales by meeting potential customers and selling funeral packages to them.

In December, the pair decided that Thng would refer customers to Funeral Hub and receive from Lim a 5 per cent cut of each funeral package sold. This was higher than the 1 per cent referral fee he received from his own firm.

Thng would also receive commission from Lim for upselling funeral-related items, such as fruit baskets and paper house sets.

He also recommended a former colleague from his firm to work for Lim at Funeral Hub.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said this was in breach of his duty to Direct Funeral as he was paid to bring sales to the company. Investigations revealed that Thng referred three customers to Funeral Hub instead of directing them to Direct Funeral.

On March 5, 2019, Direct Funeral fired Thng after it discovered the corrupt agreement between the pair.

Thng was immediately hired by Lim and received $3,520 for the three referrals he had made.

The court heard that Thng had not paid back the bribe money, but had spent the sum.

District Judge Ronald Gwee issued him a $3,520 penalty, but Thng said he was unable to pay the amount and was instead given 16 additional days in prison.

Thng, who was unrepresented, asked the judge for leniency and said he was the sole breadwinner of his family.

"Being away from my family for too long, my family will have financial difficulties," he said in his mitigation plea, adding that he hoped to return home in time for his daughter's PSLE results next month.

Thng was allowed to call his wife before heading to jail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2021, with the headline 'Ex-funeral director jailed for taking bribes from competitor'. Subscribe