Man jailed for 90 weeks and ordered to pay $1.13 million penalty for bribery

Low Chin Yuen was jailed for 90 weeks and ordered to pay a penalty of $1.13 million for accepting bribes.
Low Chin Yuen was jailed for 90 weeks and ordered to pay a penalty of $1.13 million for accepting bribes. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A former marketing and sales executive of a petrochemical products company, who accepted bribes amounting to about US$800,000 (S$1.1 million) for 11 years from a vendor, was jailed for 90 weeks and ordered to pay a penalty of $1.13 million on Thursday (March 9).

Low Chin Yuen, now unemployed, had admitted to 40 of 122 corruption charges on Feb 17.

The 52-year-old was with Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS) when he corruptly accepted cash bribes of between US$1,293 and US$14,125 from Mr Tan Teck Koon and Mr Ryo Kondo, directors of VLK Traders.

PCS, which produces and supplies petrochemical products, awarded a two-year petrol shipping contract to VLK in 2003 to transport two products - toluene and xylene - overseas.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur said Low's job was to invite vendors to quote, evaluate the quotations received and recommend a vendor to his management.

In recommending VLK to PCS, Low felt that VLK's vessels were good enough to qualify as a PCS vendor. VLK had also submitted the lowest quote among its competitors and was eventually awarded the contracts.

Shortly before the first contract was awarded to it, VLK started paying sums of about US$500 or US$1,000 to Low on a few occasions.

After the contract was awarded, VLK began making monthly payments to him based on a rate of US$0.50 to US$1 per metric tonne of petrochemical products that VLK transported for PCS per month.

After the first contract, VLK was awarded subsequent contracts for the shipment of the two products, said DPP Kaur.

Initially, Mr Tan handed the US dollars in cash to Low but after he left VLK in 2004, Mr Kondo took over.

The monthly payments ceased in April 2014 after Low's arrest by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Between 2003 and 2014, he accepted bribes totalling US$797,415 (S$1.13 million).

"By accepting the money, the accused knew that he would be beholden to VLK and may be asked to give more business to VLK pursuant to these payments," said DPP Kaur.

Low's lawyer Suresh Damodara had asked for a fine. He said the father of three started as an operating assistant and was promoted to marketing and sales executive by PCS due to his "spectacular" performance.

Throughout his 21 years with the company, counsel said Low never compromised his company's interests in any way whatsoever. He only added great value to PCS by strengthening the company's businesses and positioning in the market.

Low also never asked VLK for any money or reward and neither did he dictate to VLK what was to be paid to him, he added.

Low, who cannot pay the penalty, will serve another 10 months' jail in default on top of his 90 weeks' imprisonment.

He could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years per charge.