Jail for ex-RSAF engineer who cheated Government over contracts worth more than $1.8 million

Rajkumar Padmanathan, who pleaded guilty earlier to 19 cheating charges involving more than $150,000, was sentenced to two years, one month and six weeks' jail. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) engineer was sentenced to two years, one month and six weeks' jail on Friday (July 27) after cheating the Government over contracts worth more than $1.8 million.

Rajkumar Padmanathan, 49, had pleaded guilty on May 9 to 19 cheating charges involving more than $150,000. Another 198 counts of cheating involving the remaining amount were taken into consideration during sentencing. He also admitted to one corruption charge and eight offences involving the Official Secrets Act.

On Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Siok Chen urged District Judge Edgar Foo to jail Rajkumar for two years and four months. Stressing that the offences were difficult to detect, she said that Rajkumar had "compromised the procurement process".

Defence lawyer Bernice Leong pleaded for the court to sentence her client to 20 months' jail for cheating, six weeks for corruption and a fine of $12,000 for the offences involving the Official Secrets Act.

She told Judge Foo that Rajkumar completed the tasks linked to the contracts and the jobs were of "satisfactory quality".

Rajkumar joined RSAF as an air force engineer in 1989. His tasks included raising requests for repair and maintenance works. Independent contractors would tender for these jobs and the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) paid them once the tasks were completed. He resigned on July 31, 2012.

DPP Vincent Ong said that Rajkumar came up with a scheme to cheat his employer and obtain profits for himself.

On May 19, 2010, he incorporated a firm known as Goodwill Aviations System (GAS), with his wife as the sole director and shareholder. However, Rajkumar was the true owner and controlled the company's business, said DPP Ong.

Without informing his superiors of his links to GAS, he would make recommendations for jobs to be awarded to the firm. Between October 2010 and June 2012, GAS was awarded 99 jobs with a total value of $868,994.

Besides GAS, Rajkumar was also involved in the business of three other companies which tendered for works required by the RSAF. They are Eagle Flight Aviation Services, Duratech Engineering and Global Trade Well. Through a similar method, these three firms were each awarded jobs of between $27,506.87 and $632,528.

After leaving RSAF, Rajkumar met Sung Way Xiong, now 29, in 2014. The younger man was an RSAF engineer at that time and had access to a platform known as the Enterprise System, which contained confidential data such as pricing information for various items.

Rajkumar then asked the younger man to provide him with the prices of items in the RSAF inventory. Sung, who corruptly agreed to be part of the plan, was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail in May. In a statement, Mindef said it has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and that all servicemen are expected to "uphold the highest standards of integrity and conduct".

Rajkumar is now out on bail of $60,000 and was ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on Aug 10 to begin serving his sentence.

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