HDB enforcement officer jailed for tip-offs on surprise inspections

Kalayarasan Karuppaya was on Aug 30 jailed for 25 days.
Kalayarasan Karuppaya was on Aug 30 jailed for 25 days.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - An investigation officer with the Housing Board who was supposed to catch law breakers through surprise inspections tipped off his friend about such checks, helping the latter evade getting caught.

Kalayarasan Karuppaya, 55, who held the rank of higher estate executive with the HDB's operations department, was on Monday (Aug 30) jailed for 25 days.

He pleaded guilty to two charges under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), with a third charge taken into consideration.

Kalayarasan was an HDB enforcement officer who conducted surprise inspections on flats for illegal subletting and occupancy.

In 2017, he met Damandeep Singh, a 22-year-old Indian national, while conducting an inspection at a unit Damandeep was staying in.

They later became friends, and would occasionally contact each other over the phone.

Damandeep later moved to another unit, which he illegally sublet to others.

Some 12 or 13 people ended up staying at the unit at any time, and about $200 was collected monthly from each of the illegal subtenants.

HDB then received complaints from members of the public about suspected overcrowding and noise at the unit.

A surprise inspection was planned on May 8, 2019, and the case was assigned to Kalayarasan.

But he told Damandeep about the inspection beforehand.

Damandeep in turn got the illegal subtenants to quickly move out of the unit before the inspection.

The case was closed after the inspection found no signs of overcrowding or illegal subletting.

But the police checked the unit on Aug 24 that year and found 19 people there, and again on Sept 4, finding 18 people.

They then handed the case over to the HDB.

Kalayarasan again tipped off Damandeep about a surprise inspection he was to conduct on Sept 10.

This case was also closed after the inspection again found no signs of overcrowding or illegal subletting.

But after the unit's owner was informed about the police referral, Damandeep's tenancy was terminated and the unit was vacated the same month.

Kalayarasan's actions came to light after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau received information in January last year about his tip-offs to Damandeep.

The HDB officer has been suspended since Jan 25 last year.

A spokesman for HDB said it takes a serious view of any unauthorised disclosure of information, and will follow up to take disciplinary actions against Kalayarasan.

Damandeep's case is still before the courts.

For each OSA charge of wrongful communication of information, Kalayarasan could have been jailed for up to two years and fined $2,000.