Former funeral director jailed 4 weeks for accepting bribes from competitor

SINGAPORE - Dissatisfied with his pay, a former director of Direct Funeral Services Sunny Thng Poh Leong betrayed his company and accepted bribes from a competitor.

The 47-year-old Singaporean agreed to channel customers to Funeral Hub in return for a 5 per cent cut of funeral packages sold - part of an agreement with its founder, Lim Eng Soon.

On Tuesday (Oct 12), Thng was sentenced to four weeks in jail for one count of corruptly accepting gratification from Lim, 58, whose case is pending.

Thng's sentence will come with an additional 16 days of imprisonment, as he told the court he was unable to pay the $3,520 penalty imposed.

Lim set up Funeral Hub in October 2018, but lacked the contacts or expertise to commence business, according to court documents.

In November 2018, Thng approached him with a plan to set up a new funeral services firm because he was disgruntled with the pay he was receiving from his own company. His role in Direct Funeral included generating sales for the company by meeting potential customers and selling funeral packages to them.

In December, the pair made an agreement. Thng would refer customers to Funeral Hub and receive from Lim a 5 per cent cut of each funeral package sold. This was higher than the 1 per cent referral fee he received from his own firm.

Thng would also receive commission from Lim for upselling funeral-related items, like fruit baskets, religious chanting sessions and paper house sets. He also recommended a former colleague from his firm to work for Lim at Funeral Hub.

Deputy public prosecutor Magdalene Huang said this was in breach of his duty to Direct Funeral, as he was paid to bring sales to the company.

Investigations revealed that Thng referred three customers to Funeral Hub instead of directing them to Direct Funeral. He told them Funeral Hub offered cheaper and more value-for-money funeral packages.

On March 5, 2019, Direct Funeral fired Thng after it discovered the corrupt agreement between the pair.

Thng was immediately hired by Lim and received $3,520 for the three referrals he had made.

The court heard that Thng had not paid back the bribe money, but had spent the sum.

District Judge Ronald Gwee issued him a $3,520 penalty, but Thng said he was unable to pay the amount and was instead given 16 additional days in prison.

Thng, who was unrepresented, asked the judge for leniency and said that he was the sole breadwinner of his family.

"I beg for your leniency, your honour. Being away from my family for too long, my family will have financial difficulties," he said in his mitigation plea, adding that he hoped to return home in time for his daughter's Primary School Leaving Examination results in November.

Following his sentence, he was allowed to call his wife before heading to jail.

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