Second mastermind of ruse that caused WDA to lose $51,000 admits to offences

Ng Yong Jing admitted to 19 cheating charges involving $4,500 and one count of intentionally obstructing the course of justice. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A second mastermind behind a ruse that cheated the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA)of $51,000 in total, pleaded guilty to his offences on Wednesday (Aug 14).

Ng Yong Jing, 28, who is also known as Sean, admitted to 19 cheating charges involving $4,500 and one count of intentionally obstructing the course of justice.

Another 187 charges linked to the remaining amount will be considered during sentencing.

He committed the offences against WDA, now known as SkillsFuture Singapore, in 2016.

One of Ng's accomplices and fellow mastermind, Tay Sheng Yang, 28, was sentenced last month to two years' jail after pleading guilty to 19 cheating charges and one count of obstructing the course of justice.

The cases involving two other alleged masterminds - Joshua Tan Jun Liang, also 28, and Lim Biao, 27 - are pending.

The court heard the cheating charges involved the SkillsFuture Credits (SFC) scheme, launched in January 2016 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skill development and lifelong learning.

The scheme gives all Singaporeans aged 25 and older an opening credit of $500 in their SFC account which can be used to pay for approved courses.

Tay, who is also known as Allister, was one of the directors of two companies, A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. Between February and March 2016, WDA approved four courses to be funded by the SFC under the two companies.

They were in areas such as professional selling and financial modelling. Ng was the only trainer for both companies, Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Goh told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan.

The DPP said that in early 2016, Tay and Ng discussed an idea to increase the sales of courses offered by the companies by giving fees to people who referred trainees to register for the courses.

She added that Lim later became involved in the plan and the trio also talked about giving cash directly to trainees as part of an effort to increase sales. Lim later told Tan about the plan, the court heard.

A training provider under the SFC scheme was not supposed to pay trainees from their disbursed SFC or even enter into such agreements, said DPP Goh.

In April 2016, a company known as C.G. Marketing (CGM) was set up with the sole purpose of promoting A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

The DPP said Lim and Tan managed CGM's operations. They were also in charge of recruiting sales persons and paying commissions to them.

She added: "Sean, Lim Biao, Joshua and Allister initiated a plan to cheat WDA by submitting inflated SFC claims. By having CGM give cashbacks for course registration, the plan encouraged a high sign-up rate for courses offered by A.I. Industries without trainees actually attending the courses. As a result, the WDA was cheated into delivering a total of $51,000 to A.I. Industries."

On June 1, 2016, the Commercial Affairs Department received a complaint from WDA against A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

WDA removed the two companies' courses from the SkillsFuture Credit course directory a week later.

On July 25, 2016, Tay and Ng were arrested at the Tuas Checkpoint in separate vehicles.

DPP Goh said Ng made a restitution totalling $34,250 to SkillsFuture Singapore on May 31 this year.

He is out on a $25,000 bail and is expected to be sentenced on Aug 26.

For each count of cheating, offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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