Two ex-Spring staff jailed for cheating agency

Couple in relationship exploited scheme meant to help SMEs

Two former Spring Singapore staff members, who were in a relationship, exploited a scheme meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cheated their organisation of at least $50,000 .

I Shu Hui and Soh Hua Xiang also attempted to cheat the agency of an additional $145,000.

Soh, now 31, used the names of small heartland businesses to apply for $5,000 Innovation and Capability Vouchers (ICVs), and forged documents to submit the minimum four quotations the scheme needed. His girlfriend, I, then disbursed the ICV claims to an account held by Soh and a friend, who was clueless to the deceit.

Soh knew the intricacies of the ICV scheme because he had worked for Spring Singapore between 2011 and 2015, and was a business capabilities manager in charge of the scheme which is designed to help SMEs develop their capabilities.

I, now 30, was a Spring Singapore finance manager.

After he left his job, Soh walked around the heartland to identify businesses whose names he could use for his fraudulent applications.

In court yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said the fraudulent applications "were for the purchase of point-of-sales (POS) systems, and that Soh targeted mini marts as POS systems will be more applicable to their businesses".

Between August and October 2015, Soh passed the names of targeted sole proprietors and the unique entity numbers of their businesses to I for her to check whether they had submitted ICV applications before. The business owners had no clue this was happening.

He then submitted to Spring Singapore on the ICV online portal forged quotations for POS systems purportedly issued by four other companies, which he had randomly picked off the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's website.

Soh issued the quotations without the firms' authorisation or knowledge.

Once the applications were approved, Soh submitted the claims and I approved the Giro disbursements of the fraudulent ICV claims.

DPP Huang said: "(Soh) knew the ICV system very well because of his prior employment with Spring Singapore. He decided to cheat (it) in order to obtain money to buy a house for his sister, as he wanted to stay separately from her."

Soh was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty last month to 21 counts of cheating.

I was jailed for a year after she admitted to 20 similar charges. She has since left Spring Singapore.

It was not mentioned in court if the couple are still together.

Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Two ex-Spring staff jailed for cheating agency'. Print Edition | Subscribe