Former employee of Hyflux subsidiary sentenced to 10 days' jail in bribery case

Khoo Chen Ee was working at Hydrochem, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyflux, at the time. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A former human resources manager of a Hyflux subsidiary asked and received some $6,000 in bribes from the director of a recruitment agency he was friendly with.

Khoo Chen Ee had recommended the company for a project that Hyflux was working on.

In return, the 36-year-old asked for the director of recruitment agency Leeds HR Solution to cover his personal expenses, including a short holiday to Bangkok that he took with his girlfriend.

Khoo, a Malaysian, was sentenced to 10 days' jail on Friday (Oct 23), after pleading guilty to two corruption charges. Another similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Derek Ee told the court that Khoo, who was employed by Hydrochem (S), had to liaise with employment agencies to source for foreign workers for Hyflux, which was working on an incineration plant project.

Hydrochem is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyflux, and is the predecessor of the company. It was set up by Hyflux founder Olivia Lum in 1989.

Khoo came to know of Mr Elumalai Selvakumar, the director of Leeds HR Solution, through his work, and subsequently became "good friends" with him, said DPP Ee.

"Khoo had repeatedly given positive feedback about Leeds to the Hyflux TAT (talent acquisition team), and never gave negative feedback about Leeds," said the DPP.

He added that Khoo told his team that Leeds was better than the other agencies in areas such as crowd control and repatriation.

Some time in August 2018, Khoo contacted Mr Selvakumar after a personal trip to Bangkok with his girlfriend.

He had spent about $1,000 to $1,500 on the trip, and Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar to "cover" it as he knew that Hyflux had awarded some recruitment contracts to the company and it was doing well, said DPP Ee.

Mr Selvakumar agreed and handed him $1,000 during a meal at Jurong Point.

In September 2018, Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar for a "fee", as he knew that Hyflux was in the midst of awarding Leeds a recruitment order.

He also asked for some money to cover his expenses for a recruitment trip to Chennai in October 2018.

Mr Selvakumar gave him $5,000 on Dec 3 that year.

Two weeks later, Khoo was caught at the airport while on his way to a recruitment trip with Leeds to Chennai.

He had expected to receive another $1,000 after the trip from Mr Selvakumar.

In mitigation, Khoo's defence counsel Suang Wijaya said Khoo had cooperated with the authorities, and had voluntarily paid back the $6,000 he received.

The sum will be forfeited to the state, the district judge ordered.

Mr Selvakumar will be dealt with in court separately. Khoo will begin his sentence on Nov 6.

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