Man sentenced to seven months' jail for scheming with senior Singtel staff to cheat telco

Lee See Kiang conspired with a senior Singtel staff member to deceive the telco into paying more than it should for road shows.
Lee See Kiang conspired with a senior Singtel staff member to deceive the telco into paying more than it should for road shows.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A former businessman conspired with a senior Singtel staff member to deceive the telco into paying more than it should for road shows to promote and sell prepaid phone cards to the public.

Having secured the tender for the road shows, Lee See Kiang, 45, inflated invoices submitted to Singtel monthly. The director of Tranquil Trading then parked the extra sums in Tranquil's bank account for the use of one Benjamin Wong Kai Sing.

Wong was deputy director of the telco's Prepaid Channel sales department, who later became director of the same department.

On Friday (March 2), Lee was given seven months' jail after he admitted to 11 of 32 charges of cheating and conspiring with Wong to cheat the telco.

The court heard that Wong was the one who devised the plan and even discussed it with officers of his department to get their co-operation.

He was dealt with last year and jailed seven months in April.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Magdalene Huang said sometime before September 2007, Wong and Lee agreed to collaborate on a project to organise the public road shows.

They did this with Vincent Goh Hock Meng, a senior manager of Singtel's Post-Paid Channel Sales department.

Wong and Goh had agreed to invest money in the project to organise public road shows if Tranquil clinched the tender.

Tranquil ran road shows for Wong's department between 2007 and 2010 before Singtel lodged a police report complaining of suspected irregularities in the awarding of contracts to the company.

Investigation showed that every year, Wong's department would be given a budget to organise road shows to boost its sales. The budget would then be allocated across the upcoming 12 months based on the previous year's expenditure for each month.

Sometime in 2008, Wong devised a plan such that the monthly unused balance allocated for road shows would be parked with Tranquil instead of being returned to Singtel.

The plan was to inflate the invoices which Tranquil submitted to Singtel so that the difference between the actual value and the inflated value for each of these inflated invoices could be parked in Tranquil's bank account.

This was done by overstating the price for various items in a single invoice, or billing Singtel with two invoices and overstating the total value of these two invoices.

The extra sum claimed came up to about $690,000.

DPP Huang said the case involved gross abuses of corporate responsibility committed for personal gain over an extended period. She attributed Wong's profit to be some $578,000, about 30 times his initial outlay of $20,000.

Lee's lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation said in their mitigation plea that Lee used the excess funds parked with Tranquil to pay third party vendors for Singtel-related road shows. The mastermind behind the scheme was Wong, an insider.

District Judge Marvin Bay said a stiff sentence was necessary to discourage similar acts of collusion by actors within and outside an organisation.

"Without a sufficiently deterrent and denunciatory sentence to strongly discourage activities of this ilk, we would, as a country, be exposed to a risk of a devaluation of our hard-won reputation and standing as a transparent, competitive and incorrupt economy," he said.

Lee, who has a related civil suit pending, had his sentence deferred to April 2.

Goh was not charged.