Ex-LTA director graft case: 2 plead guilty to corruption, another to falsifying documents

Korean nationals Ro Sungyoung (left) and Kim Young-gyu were employees of Daewoo Engineering & Construction when they committed the offence.
Korean nationals Ro Sungyoung (left) and Kim Young-gyu were employees of Daewoo Engineering & Construction when they committed the offence.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two men have admitted to their involvement in an alleged $1.24 million graft case surrounding a former deputy group director of the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Korean nationals Ro Sungyoung and Kim Young-gyu each pleaded guilty on Friday (May 7) to one count of conspiring to bribe Henry Foo Yung Thye with a loan of $30,000.

Another similar charge involving a loan of $20,000 will be taken into consideration by the court during sentencing.

Foo is accused of receiving a total of about $1.24 million in loans as bribes from LTA’s contractors and sub-contractors, among other things. He faces 23 charges for corruption and 13 for cheating.

Ro, 49, and Kim, 52, were employees of Daewoo Engineering & Construction when they committed their offence in December 2018. Ro was responsible for liaising with the company’s clients and reported to Kim.

The court heard that they worked on the construction of Stevens MRT station, with the tender awarded to Daewoo in April 2014.

They started communicating frequently with Foo, who was in charge of the construction project, in 2015.
 
In mid-2018, Foo told Ro that he had financial problems and asked for a loan. Ro relayed the request to Kim, who rejected the notion initially. 

Kim knew that Daewoo had strong compliance policies prohibiting the payment of money to clients. He also knew that such payments would be against Singapore law, the court heard.

After Foo made further requests to Ro, Kim instructed his colleague to reject Foo on the pretext that Daewoo was having financial difficulties. 

But the two men later decided they could no longer deny Foo’s request for a loan, and they hoped that it would put them on friendly terms with Foo and facilitate the smooth progress of the project.

They also hoped that it would put Daewoo in a better position to be awarded future contracts by LTA, compared with other contractors who had not given money to Foo.

On Dec 6, 2018, Ro transferred $30,000 to two bank accounts – one held by Foo and the other by Foo and his wife jointly – in four separate payments. The court heard that Foo did not repay the sum despite mentioning that he would.

Kim and Ro are expected to be sentenced on May 18.

Six men – including the duo – and a company, China Railway Tunnel Group’s Singapore branch (CRTG), were earlier charged with bribing Foo.

The cases involving Foo, CRTG and the other four individuals are pending.

Another man pleaded guilty on Friday to an offence in relation to alleged payments by CRTG to Foo.

Chen Xuguang, 54, abetted the falsification of an invoice for $197,950, which was submitted to Tong Sheng Construction & Trading when it was a sub-contractor of CRTG in 2018.

The Singaporean was the sole proprietor and director of Tong Sheng, which was a sub-contractor of CRTG .

Chen had conspired with an employee of CRTG to create false invoices, which were used to legitimise transfers of money from CRTG to Tong Sheng.

The court heard that the CRTG employee was involved in bribing Foo.
On Jan 30, 2018, Chen withdrew $189,000 after CRTG paid Tong Shen for the false invoice. He then handed the money to the CRTG employee.

Another similar charge involving an invoice for $175,000 will be taken into consideration during sentencing, also expected to be on May 18.

Anyone convicted of a corruption offence can be fined up to $100,000 or jailed for up to five years, or both.

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.

Those convicted of cheating or the falsification of accounts can be jailed for up to 10 years, or fined, or both.