Director accused of bribing town council's ex-GM changes his tune day after giving statement

Wong Chee Meng, 58, who stands accused of taking bribes from two company directors, outside the State Courts on Sept 26, 2018.
Wong Chee Meng, 58, who stands accused of taking bribes from two company directors, outside the State Courts on Sept 26, 2018.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A company director on trial for allegedly giving bribes totalling more than $107,000 to a former town council general manager wanted to change his tune the day after giving his statement to an anti-graft investigator.

Chia Sin Lan, 63, told a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officer on Oct 5, 2016, that he had thought about his family and decided to "tell the truth", the Court heard on Wednesday (Sept 26).

But the previous day (Oct 4), he had denied giving bribes to the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council, Wong Chee Meng.

Chia told CPIB principal special investigator Keith Peh that he had actually given $20,000 to the mistress of Wong, 58.

Both Chia and Wong are on trial for corruption.

Chia, who is accused of 54 counts of bribing Wong to advance the interests of his companies, also said he had paid for all the entertainment expenses incurred when he went on two trips to China with Wong in 2016.

In his initial statement, he said they took turns to foot the bill.

These and other details emerged when Mr Peh took the stand, on the second day of trial into a stream of gratification which Chia had allegedly given to Wong for almost two years, up to 2016.

Wong faces 55 charges for receiving the bribes, with the "lion's share" of the gratification - or close to $53,000 - going to entertainment expenses incurred by the two accused at various KTV lounges and massage parlours, the prosecution said.

During the period when Wong received the gratifications, Chia's companies - 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise - were given tenders and contracts worth millions of dollars by Ang Mo Kio town council, the prosecution added.

These were for projects such as repairs and re-decoration of blocks of Housing Board flats and the building of community gardens.

The Court heard that Chia had set up 19-NS2 to take on sub-contracted jobs from 19-ANC, thus allowing him to bid for projects of a bigger scale.

 
 
 

He was paid a monthly salary of about $10,000 by 19-ANC and $5,000 by 19-NS2.

Chia said in his statement to the CPIB in Oct 2016 that he got the name 19-ANC from a night club he frequented on the 19th floor of a building, which was not named.

In his statement recorded by Mr Peh, Chia also said he was approached by Wong to find a job for his daughter-in-law Le Thi Hien. He did so, with a subcontractor of 19-ANC and 19-NS2.

Ms Le's salary, however, was paid by Chia and his business associate Tay Eng Chuan, a director of 19-NS2.

Earlier on Wednesday (Sept 26), Wong's lawyer Melanie Ho, of WongPartnership, told the State Court that Wong had forked out more than $10,000 from his own pocket to pay the bills when he went drinking with Chia.

Ms Ho disclosed this while cross-examining CPIB's chief special investigator Tan Jun Kiat.

She said Wong had told the CPIB he had attempted to pay for the entertainment sessions with Chia and his associates, and did so on a few occasions.

She then asked Mr Tan why he did not verify this further when taking Wong's statement in 2016.

Mr Tan said he did not do it, as Wong was unable to show proof that he had paid for the expenses, adding that he was unaware if this was later verified by other CPIB colleagues.

When asked by Ms Ho whether he was involved in obtaining documents on the case, he said he was not.

A handwritten ledger, purportedly documenting the entertainment expenses for Wong and which was seized from Chia's office by Mr Peh, was also the subject of scrutiny at the hearing.

While one of the items was for a spa package at a Geylang spa, Ms Ho said her client had never been there and asked Mr Peh if he had checked on Wong's visits from the spa's records.

Mr Peh replied that he was not aware if this was done and said the case investigating officer could have assigned someone to do so.

The trial continues tomorrow (Sept 27).