Two jailed for scheming to bribe HDB employee 23 years ago

Chang Chan Nam, 54, director of Chang Choon Huat Construction, was sentenced to six months' jail for bribing an HDB officer in charge of carpark barriers installation work. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Two men who conspired to bribe a Housing Board clerk of works to be lenient in his supervision of a construction project more than 20 years ago were sentenced to jail on Wednesday (Oct 25).

Chang Chan Nam, 55, and Peck Chin Choon, 54, then directors of Chang Choon Huat Construction (CCH), each admitted to five charges of giving cash cheques of $2,400 each between March and July 1994 to Soh Chor Huang.

Chang was given six months' jail while Peck, whose culpability was lower, was jailed for four months.

Seventeen other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Soh was given nine months' jail and ordered to pay a penalty of $24,800 in April.

Though the crimes were committed in the 1990s, The Straits Times understands that the information came to light only in 2015.

Some time before CCH was incorporated, Soh approached Chang to ask about the possibility of working together on an HDB project to install barriers to existing parapets of multi-storey carparks.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jasmin Kaur said that as Soh did not want to register his name in the company, he asked his brother-in-law Goh Teck Seng to do so. Mr Goh agreed to place his name in CCH but did not get involved in the company in any other way.

CCH was thus set up in the names of Chang, Peck and Mr Goh. Peck did not object when Chang told him about the plan.

Some time in 1993, when CCH began work on the project, Chang was appointed the project manager and Peck was in charge of supervising works.

Both men were aware that CCH did not fully comply with the project specifications by using materials which were not approved by HDB for the installation of some of the carpark barriers.

In the event that CCH wanted to use materials not stated in the specifications, it would have to get permission from HDB, but this was not done. Instead, Chang and Peck agreed to give benefits to Soh, who was in charge of the project, so that he would not report this to HDB and would allow the works to continue.

Between January and November 1994, directors' salaries were paid to Chang, Peck and Mr Goh, and 20 per cent of the salaries were credited into their respective Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, with the remainder paid in cash or cheque.

For Mr Goh's salary, 20 per cent was credited into his CPF account, and the remaining 80 per cent went to Soh.

DPP Kaur said the corrupt gratifications involved a total of $6,200 in CPF payment to Mr Goh and $24,800 in cash cheques to Soh.

Chang, represented by Mr Yu Jun Wen, and Pek, represented by Mr Selwyn Tan, could have been fined up to $100,000 and/or jailed for up to five years on each charge.

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