Ex-inspection officer at BCA jailed 8 weeks for corruption, ordered to pay $600 in penalties

Tan Ming Lie pleaded guilty to one count of corruption. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A former inspection officer of the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) who abused his position in public service to solicit business for his own company was jailed eight weeks and ordered to pay $600 in penalties on Wednesday (Oct 6).

Tan Ming Lie, a 32-year-old Singaporean, pleaded guilty to one count of corruption. A similar charge was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that Tan, a temporary worker at BCA, was responsible for inspecting construction sites and dormitories to ensure that Covid-19 safe management measures were followed.

On Nov 24 last year, Tan was tasked to inspect a construction site at 69 Begonia Drive that was managed by Domain Trading & Construction.

When he contacted Domain Trading's general manager, Mr Goh Tock Tan, to arrange for an inspection, Tan also sent Mr Goh his personal name card as the safety and sales manager of Angelshield Safety Consultant.

Angelshield is a private company that provides management consultancy services, of which Tan is the sole director and shareholder.

When Mr Goh asked Tan if he was from BCA, the latter said yes, adding that he had to "multi-task to earn a living" as the "market was bad".

Mr Goh then asked to see his BCA name card but Tan did not have one. Mr Goh pressed Tan for his credentials and asked if they could communicate via his BCA e-mail address. Tan refused and told Mr Goh not to worry.

During the site inspection the next day, Tan told site staff that their safe management monitoring plan was inadequate.

Tan recommended that the site manager hire an external company to improve safely planning and refused to teach him how to amend the plan.

Afraid that Tan would submit a harsh report to BCA on Domain Trading's non-compliance with Covid-19 measures, Mr Goh hired Angelshield to draft the plan. He paid Tan $600 for the service some time in December last year.

His offences came to light when a project manager of a construction company from whom Tan tried to obtain bribes reported the matter to BCA.

When questioned by BCA, Tan lied that Angelshield was owned by his wife.

Seeking at least 10 weeks' jail, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew said Tan had directly contravened his duty as a public service officer in soliciting business for his own company.

"There was a degree of premeditation as (Tan) gave his name card to (Mr Goh), who was clearly uncomfortable from the outset. (Mr Goh) was trying to direct the conversation to official channels," she said.

In mitigation, Tan said he committed the offence for the survival of his company. "I agree that what I did was wrong and plead for leniency," he added.

For corruption, Tan could have been fined up to $100,000 and jailed for up to five years.

If the offence is related to a matter or contract with the Government or a public body, the maximum jail term for each offence can be increased to seven years.

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