Managers of now-closed private school failed to refund more than $170,000 to students on time

Singaporean Pek Siew Gek (left), 41, and Chinese national Tang Yudong, 29, managers of Kings International Business School (KIBS) in Bukit Merah Central were told by the authorities to refund more than $170,000 to students who had not completed their
Singaporean Pek Siew Gek (left), 41, and Chinese national Tang Yudong, 29, managers of Kings International Business School (KIBS) in Bukit Merah Central were told by the authorities to refund more than $170,000 to students who had not completed their studies as of April 20 2015.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A private school was ordered to shut down in 2015 after it was found to have awarded diplomas in maritime studies to students who did not attend classes.

The two managers of Kings International Business School (KIBS) in Bukit Merah Central were told by the authorities to refund more than $170,000 to students who had not completed their studies as of April 20 that year.

The 34 students were supposed to receive their full refund by July 3, 2015.

Singaporean Pek Siew Gek, 41, and Chinese national Tang Yudong, 29, were also ordered to make arrangements for each student to be offered a place in another registered private education institution by May 5, 2015.

But Pek and Tang, a Singapore permanent resident, failed to comply with these written directions from the Council for Private Education (CPE), now known as the Committee for Private Education.

They have refunded only about $30,350 of the course fees so far and students received their payments as late as Aug 4, 2016.

They also did not make any arrangements for the students to be offered places in other schools.

In a district court on Wednesday (April 24), they pleaded guilty to one count each of failing to comply with the directions by the deadlines.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong told District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim that each student had paid the school between $717 and $6,923 for their courses.

Most of them signed up for a diploma course in maritime studies, while others were enrolled in other courses. Graduates of the maritime course usually went on to work as bunker surveyors.

The school's offence came to light in 2014 when the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore told the CPE that the school had offered the maritime studies diploma to students who did not attend classes.

Pek and Tang, who are represented by lawyer Derek Kang, are out on bail of $15,000 each and are expected to be sentenced on June 10.

In an earlier case, the two were convicted last year of one count each of abetting to obstruct the course of justice. Pek and Tang were then sentenced to three months and two months' jail respectively.

In his submissions last year during the trial, DPP Choong said that during an inspection by CPE on Nov 7, 2014, KIBS submitted false examination scripts bearing the names of students who had not taken the exams.

Pek and Tang are appealing against their conviction and sentence in this case.