SkillsFuture Credits ruse: 2nd mastermind pleads guilty

Ng Yong Jing will be sentenced on Aug 26 after pleading guilty yesterday. He is out on bail of $25,000.
Ng Yong Jing will be sentenced on Aug 26 after pleading guilty yesterday. He is out on bail of $25,000.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A second mastermind pleaded guilty yesterday over a ruse that cheated the then Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) of $51,000 in total .

Ng Yong Jing, 28, 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.

Fellow mastermind Tay Sheng Yang, 28 , who was one of Ng's accomplices, 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, 28, and Lim Biao, 27 - are pending.

The court heard that the cheating charges involved the SkillsFuture Credits (SFC) scheme, launched in 2016 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skill development and lifelong learning. It gives Singaporeans aged 25 and older an opening credit of $500 in their SFC account which can be used to pay for approved courses.

Tay 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 firms. They were in areas such as professional selling and financial modelling. Ng was the only trainer for both firms, 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 paying fees to people who referred trainees to register for the courses.

 
 
 

She also said Lim later became involved in the plan and the trio 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 is not supposed to pay trainees from disbursed SFC funds or even enter into such agreements, said DPP Goh.

In April 2016, a firm known as C.G. Marketing (CGM) was set up with the sole purpose of promoting A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. Lim and Tan managed CGM's operations.

On June 1, 2016, the Commercial Affairs Department received a complaint from WDA against A.I. Industries and Alliance Continens. On July 25 that year, Tay and Ng were arrested at the Tuas Checkpoint. Ng made restitution totalling $34,250 to SkillsFuture Singapore on May 31 this year. He is out on bail of $25,000 and is to be sentenced on Aug 26.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline 'SkillsFuture Credits ruse: 2nd mastermind pleads guilty'. Print Edition | Subscribe