Tuition agency owner, whose worker is linked to exam cheating scam, fined for lying to police

Wong Mee Keow was fined $2,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of giving false information to a policeman in August and November 2006.
Wong Mee Keow was fined $2,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of giving false information to a policeman in August and November 2006.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The former owner of a private tuition agency lied to the police when questioned about her links to the main suspect in a cheating scam involving two Chinese national students.

Then-owner of Pivot Tuition agency, Wong Mee Keow, 39, told an officer that she did not know the suspect, who was one of her workers, Poh Yuan Nie, alias Pony Poh.

Wong, who is now jobless, was fined $2,000 on Monday (Feb 5) after pleading guilty to two counts of giving false information to a policeman in August and November 2006. A third charge of intentionally obstructing the course of justice by deleting Poh's photographs from her mobile phone in October 2016 was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Both Wong and Poh are Singaporeans and defence lawyer, Peter Ong Lip Cheng, said that they are in a relationship.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vadivalagan Shanmuga told the court that the two Chinese students had earned places in a local secondary school without sitting for their entrance examination. This was discovered only because they performed extremely poorly in subsequent exams.

When confronted, the students told teachers that their agents, two Chinese nationals, had arranged for their emplacement in the school.

The name of the school, the students' identities as well as those of the two female agents were not revealed in court documents.

The court heard that police, during the course of investigations, uncovered the scam and Poh's alleged role in it.

"Pony had allegedly promised the said agents that she would get the students emplaced in the school, without the students having to take the entrance examinations," said DPP Vadivalagan. Court documents did not reveal details of how the scam worked.

Police later questioned Wong in August and November 2006 and she denied knowing Poh on both occasions.

Subsequently, investigations came to a standstill as Poh could not be traced. But the case was reopened when she was arrested in connection with another similar scam in 2015 and 2016.

Pleading for a minimal fine, Mr Ong told the court on Monday that his client was remorseful. He also said that Wong was receiving treatment for depression.

Poh's case is still pending.

For each count of giving false information to a policeman, Wong could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.