Man jailed for money-laundering offences in $40 million SkillsFuture scam

The scam has been described as the largest case of fraud perpetrated against a public institution in Singapore. SkillsFuture Singapore oversees the SkillsFuture initiative which is aimed at promoting lifelong learning among Singaporeans.
The scam has been described as the largest case of fraud perpetrated against a public institution in Singapore. SkillsFuture Singapore oversees the SkillsFuture initiative which is aimed at promoting lifelong learning among Singaporeans.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A driver, who was linked to a SkillsFuture scam involving nearly $40 million, dealt with almost $1.1 million of the ill-gotten gains, a district court heard on Tuesday (Feb 26).

Roger Quek Si Guang, 33, earned personal benefits totalling more than $108,000 for the money-laundering offences.

The scam has been described as the largest case of fraud perpetrated against a public institution in Singapore. SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) oversees the SkillsFuture initiative which is aimed at promoting lifelong learning among Singaporeans.

Quek was sentenced to 3½ years' jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty to six counts of money laundering. Twenty-two other charges, mainly for similar offences, were considered during sentencing.

The court heard that nearly $33,000 had been seized from his insurance policies, and the money will be handed over to SSG.

District Judge Marvin Bay also ordered him to pay more than $75,000 in compensation. He has to spend an additional two months behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.

Under the SSG scheme, a Singapore business entity that had sent its employees for skills training courses with registered training providers can apply to SSG for a subsidy, provided certain conditions are met.

This subsidy comprises a portion of the total course fee paid by the business entity to the training provider. Depending on the claim method used, subsidies are payable to either the training provider or applicant entity.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheng Yuxi said that Quek's older brother Andy Quek Sze Leng, 38, was part of a syndicate that cheated SSG.

 
 
 
 

The group used nine shell companies - three training providers and six business entities - to commit the offences. These nine dormant entities submitted a total of 8,386 fraudulent course fee grant applications and a corresponding 8,391 claims to SSG between May and October 2017.

About $39.9 million was disbursed by SSG to the entities, said the DPP.

In September 2017, Quek realised that his jobless older brother had suddenly managed to obtain large sums of money. He later found out that his brother had obtained the cash fraudulently from the Government.

Quek obtained the ill-gotten gains from his brother to buy items including insurance policies. He also withdrew $99,000 on his brother's behalf and hid the money at home, among other things.

DPP Cheng said SSG later found out that the nine companies had made an "abnormally high number" of course fee grant claim submissions, and it alerted the police on Nov 1, 2017.

Quek is the second person linked to the scam to be dealt with in court. The first was Lee Chi Wai, 32, who was sentenced to five years and eight months' jail in November last year.

The cases involving Andy Quek and other alleged members of the syndicate are pending.

Following this incident, SSG formed a dedicated fraud and enforcement division to monitor suspicious claims, investigate the parties involved and take the necessary action.