Ex-property agent gets jail and $100,000 fine for corruption

Goh Chan Chong was sentenced to 12 weeks' jail and a total fine of $100,000 for bribing a senior manager of a development company to get priority access to a property launch in 2007. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A former property agent who bribed a senior manager of a development company to get priority access to a property launch was sentenced to 12 weeks' jail and a total fine of $100,000 on Tuesday (May 31).

Goh Chan Chong, 40, was convicted after a 10-day trial in February this year of giving $50,000 on each of two occasions to reward United Engineers Developments' senior manager Suhaimi Amin for providing invitation cards for the launch of The Rochester in North Buona Vista in 2007.

Goh, now unemployed, is appealing against the conviction and sentence, and is out on $45,000 bail. He has an outstanding third charge, which will go for a pre-trial conference.

Mr Suhaimi, 53, was fined $60,000 in December 2014 after he admitted to one of two counts of corruptly receiving $50,000 from Goh. He returned the amount to Goh in May 2008.

The court was told that sometime before the launch of the condominium, Goh asked Mr Suhaimi for invitation cards to the launch. Besides giving him a number of VIP invitation cards, Mr Suhaimi also added Goh's name as well as his associates to the company's VVIP guest list for the launch.

On July 16, 2007, Goh and his nine associates, including his mother, brothers, wife and mother-in-law, obtained options to purchase for 10 units. They went on to buy eight, six of which were sold at higher prices than the prices at which they had bought them.

A few weeks later, to reward what Mr Suhaimi, Goh gave him a bribe of $50,000 at a roti prata shop along Casuarina Road. He subsequently gave him another sum of $50,000 at the same shop.

Mr Suhaimi later had a change of heart and returned the money to Goh, who allegedly signed on a receipt.

It is not known how the offences were discovered.

In his sentencing submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Kow highlighted the very significant amount of $100,000 bribe involved; the substantial gains of $1.1 million to $1.69 million obtained, and the fact that Goh and his girlfriend still kept two units.

He told District Judge Luke Tan that this case was more serious than the typical type of private sector corruption which involved a bribe paid to influence someone to exercise his discretion in favour of the giver of the bribe.

He submitted that Goh and his girlfriend, Madam Chan Yan Foon, hatched a scheme which saw enormous benefits that were quantified.

Goh, who was initially defended by Mr Peter Low, denied giving bribes to Mr Suhaimi nor signing the acknowledgement slip for the return of $100,000. He suggested that Mr Suhaimi lied about receiving $100,000 from him because he wanted to "exact revenge'' after Madam Chan had sent an SMS to Suhaimi threatening to expose him for taking bribes.

But the prosecution argued that even if Mr Suhaimi wanted to make a false allegation, he had no reason to implicate himself in the false allegation.

Defence lawyer Raymond Lye, who took over Goh's case after conviction, said in mitigation that the father of four put in his own effort in the hope for early purchase benefit. He said no harm was caused to United Engineers Developments, and his client obtained no real advantage.

He urged the court to impose a fine while DPP Kow had sought a total sentence of five to six months' jail plus a $100,00 fine.

The maximum penalty for corruption is a $100,000 fine and five years' jail.

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