SINGAPORE - He was charged with obstruction of justice after he helped to dispose of a laptop containing incriminating evidence about a scheme his employer was involved in.
After the company later retrenched him and stopped paying his legal fees, Qie Yanpeng stormed to its office and damaged a computer monitor.
On Wednesday (Feb 16), Qie, 53, was sentenced to three months' jail and fined $800 in court for both offences.
According to court documents, less marine fuel oil was delivered than what was promised to buyers by Qie's former company, New Ocean Fuel, in a scheme that involved using magnets to cause mass flow meters to wrongly record the amount of fuel transferred to them.
The buyers were cheated of nearly US$337,000 (S$457,500), the Attorney-General's Chambers, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Police Force said in a joint statement in September last year.
Nine other men involved in the scheme had previously been convicted and sentenced.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Phang said in latest court documents that the police arrested one of the men, Kek Kah Hui Dylan, on May 8, 2019.
Kek had been working for Success Energy, which ran bunkering operations on bunker barges on behalf of fuel suppliers and had instructed cargo officers to tamper with the meters.
Qie and two other men - Ang Heng Lye and Tay Tien Whui - who worked for Success Energy Service - learnt of the arrest and knew that Kek had a work laptop that likely contained incriminating evidence.
DPP Phang said: "(They) thus engaged in a conspiracy to retrieve Dylan's laptop from (his) sisters... in order to dispose of or destroy the laptop, and to prevent the police from acquiring it and coming into possession of incriminating evidence."
On May 9, 2019, Qie contacted the sisters, who met him and Ang at a coffee shop, where they were asked to hand over Kek's laptop.
Though initially reluctant, the sisters later agreed to let the men collect the laptop from Kek's home. Tay then disposed of the laptop in a dustbin the same day.
In July 2019, Qie was charged with obstruction of justice. He engaged a defence lawyer, with New Ocean paying his legal fees.
The following year, he was retrenched, and the company told him that it would no longer pay his legal fees.
Angered by this, he went to the company's office on Aug 27, 2020, to confront his former manager.
After entering the office, he shouted his former manager's name and swung a nearby phone handset at a computer monitor worth $159, causing its screen to shatter.
Qie then sat at his former manager's desk and propped his feet up on the desk. He was arrested after one of the office staff called the police.
For intentionally obstructing the course of justice, he could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, or both.
For committing mischief, he could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, or both.