Ex-NUS research fellow jailed four weeks for inflated transport claims

Durairaju Kumaran Raju, 50, a former National University of Singapore research fellow, was sentenced to four weeks' jail after pleading guilty to five charges of deceiving NUS by seeking claims. PHOTO: ST GRAPHIC

SINGAPORE - He had been at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for 12 years, was a senior research fellow and an environmental expert.

But that did not stop Durairaju Kumaran Raju, 50, from hatching a plan to recover money spent on himself and, on one occasion, guests he had entertained at various tourists attractions.

Between 2012 and 2014, he submitted five invoices to claim reimbursement for 309 transport hours when fewer hours had in fact been used. The inflated transport claims were to mitigate the other expenses.

But an NUS internal audit in March 2014 uncovered his ruse.

Durairaju, who was with the Tropical Marine Science Institute, was sentenced to four weeks' jail after pleading guilty to five charges of deceiving NUS by seeking claims. District Judge Lim Tse Haw had sentenced him to two weeks' jail on each charge with two of the terms to run consecutively.

In explaining the jail term in decision grounds issued on Wednesday (Nov 2), DJ Lim said public funds from various government agencies, including statutory boards were used to reimburse Durairaju.

Ravichandran Samikkanu, 51, the transport owner who provided the services, was jailed two weeks after pleading guilty for falsely inflating the hours on the invoices for Durairaju to forward to NUS.

Ten other charges were taken into consideration by the court which heard NUS had paid out $8,490 for transportation hours that were faked. The offenses were detected after NUS conducted an internal audit in March 2014.

DJ Lim said Durairaju may be entitled to be reimbursed for meal expenses but other items cited like tickets for tourist attractions for the foreign research fellows were expenses for which there was no avenue for reimbursement.

The judge added even for meal expenses, Durairaju had circumvented the controls emplaced by NUS, and there was nothing to prevent Durairaju from entertaining his foreign research fellows at expensive restaurants which may exceed what would have been reasonable meal expenses.Both men are out on bail and appealing the sentence.

An NUS spokesman said Friday (Nov 4) Durairaju's employment with the university ended in 2014.

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