Operations manager who cheated $200k from SBS Transit jailed for six months and 20 weeks

SINGAPORE - An operations manager who concocted a scheme with a bus depot foreman to cheat SBS Transit of more than $200,000 over three years was sentenced on Friday (June 22) to jail for six months and 20 weeks.

Koh Dawei, 35, conspired with Ong Sang Fei, 47, and came up with the scam, which involved payments made for ad hoc maintenance and repair jobs that SBS Transit awarded to external contractors.

Koh pleaded guilty to 20 cheating charges for his role in the scam, which took place from 2013 to 2015. Another 113 similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that at the time of the offences, Koh was employed at Venda Engineering and Trading. Ong worked at Soon Lee Depot, where SBS buses were maintained and repaired routinely either in-house or by Venda.

Some time in 2013, Koh incorporated a company called Azech Engineering without his employer's knowledge.

Koh and Ong agreed to use Azech in name to perform ad hoc jobs at the depot but the jobs were actually carried out by salaried technicians at Venda. This was not known to both their employers.

Ong facilitated the appointment of Azech as a contractor by recommending its services to his employer. Koh concealed his identity as Azech's owner by using the name "Desmond Xu" on Azech documents, with a contact number that was not his usual one.

 

Whenever SBS Transit paid Azech, Koh received 17 per cent of the proceeds while Ong took 83 per cent.

Investigations revealed that Azech's jobs were done by one or two of Venda's technicians during working hours. Court documents did not say if these technicians knew about the scam. Ong used his larger share of the payment to pay Venda's technicians for their work, while keeping the remainder.

Koh's and Ong's scam deprived other contractors the chance to take on ad hoc jobs from SBS Transit and also wrongly deprived Venda of its technicians while they did Azech jobs.

Using Venda's technicians to do Azech work also caused the company to suffer a backlog, for which liquidated damages were imposed by SBS. Venda also paid the technicians overtime for their work.

The duo did not make any restitution to their employers. Ong was sentenced to one year's jail in April this year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Sng argued for one year's jail for Koh, pointing to his concealing of his identity as Azech's owner as proof that the offences were "clearly premeditated" and that he had abused his employer's trust in him.

But District Judge Ng Peng Hong decided on six months and 20 weeks, or around 11 months, of jail for Koh, citing his smaller share in Azech's payments.

Koh could have been given three years' jail, a fine, or both, on every count of cheating.