Second mastermind of SkillsFuture Credits ruse gets 15 months' jail

Ng Yong Jing had on Aug 14 admitted to 19 cheating charges involving $4,500, as well as one count of intentionally obstructing the course of justice.
Ng Yong Jing had on Aug 14 admitted to 19 cheating charges involving $4,500, as well as one count of intentionally obstructing the course of justice.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The second mastermind behind a ruse that saw the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) cheated of a total of $51,000 was sentenced on Monday (Aug 26) to 15 months' jail.

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

Ng Yong Jing had on Aug 14 admitted to 19 cheating charges involving $4,500, as well as one count of intentionally obstructing the course of justice. The 28-year-old is also known as Sean.

Another 187 charges involving the remaining sum were considered during sentencing.

Fellow mastermind, Tay Sheng Yang, also 28, was sentenced in July to two years' jail after pleading guilty to 19 cheating charges and one count of obstructing the course of justice.

The cases involving two others - Joshua Tan Jun Liang, 28, and Lim Biao, 27 - are pending.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan on Monday said that Ng had played an integral part in the conspiracy which involved the SkillsFuture Credits (SFC) scheme.

The scheme was launched in January 2016 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skills development and lifelong learning.

It 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.

Between February and March 2016, the WDA approved funding under the SFC scheme of four courses conducted by two companies - A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

Tay, who is also known as Allister, was a director of both companies.

 
 
 
 

The courses included programmes on professional selling and financial modelling, with Ng as the only trainer for both companies.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Goh said that in early 2016, Tay and Ng hatched a plan to pay people a fee for getting trainees to register for the courses.

When Lim later became involved, the trio talked about giving cash directly to trainees, to increase sales of the courses. Lim later told Tan of the plan, the court heard.

Under the SFC scheme, a training provider cannot pay trainees from the disbursed funds, and cannot enter into such agreements, said DPP Goh.

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

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

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 the WDA against A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens.

The WDA removed the two companies' courses from the SFC course directory a week later.

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

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

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