Man linked to SkillsFuture scam jailed for 3½ years

Accused earned personal benefits totalling over $108k for money-laundering offences

A driver, who was linked to the SkillsFuture scam involving nearly $40 million, dealt with almost $1.1 million of the ill-gotten gains, a district court heard yesterday.

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 jailed for 3½ years yesterday after pleading guilty to six counts of money laundering. Twenty-two other charges, mainly for similar offences, were considered during sentencing.

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 sends its employees for skills training courses with registered training providers can apply to SSG for a subsidy, provided that 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 to commit the offences. These 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.

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 older 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 was 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'Man linked to SkillsFuture scam jailed for 3½ years'. Print Edition | Subscribe