Magician on trial for bogus claims in IRAS scheme accused claimant of misleading him

S Chandran is accused of helping three claimants obtain cash payouts and bonuses under IRAS's PIC scheme by falsely representing that they had met a condition of employing three local employees.
S Chandran is accused of helping three claimants obtain cash payouts and bonuses under IRAS's PIC scheme by falsely representing that they had met a condition of employing three local employees.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The blame game between a man who helped businesses fraudulently claim payouts under a government productivity scheme and some of the claimants implicated continued to be played out in court yesterday.

S Chandran, 37, a magician and owner of Paradize Consultancy, is on trial for three of 58 charges under the Income Tax Act. He is accused of helping three claimants obtain cash payouts and bonuses under IRAS's Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme by falsely representing that they had met a condition of employing three local employees. The fraudulent claims were made in April 2014 and amounted to $73,818.

The claimants are Mr Mahendran Rajoo, owner of M Midhuna Event Management, Ms Shanthi R Peerisamy, owner of Sharmila Event Management, and Ms Crystal Priya of Estrella Eventz.

Defence lawyer Leon Koh, in his cross-examination of Mr Mahendran, accused him of misleading Chandran into indicating on the form that Mr Mahendran had met the PIC scheme's condition of employing three locals. In fact they were Mr Mahendran's family members and did not work at M Midhuna.

"You had supplied Chandran with information of the three employees that you've listed in the PIC payout form without telling him that in fact they are not employees of M Midhuna," Mr Koh said.

Mr Mahendran replied he had given the three names to Chandran. "But if you ask me whether he knows they are employees or not, I'm not sure."

When reexamined by IRAS lawyer Norman Teo, Mr Mahendran turned the tables on Chandran, saying it was he who had supplied the bogus revenue and PIC expenditure data in the PIC form.

The three "employees" - Ms Dhanapackiyam Kannan, who is Mr Mahendran's wife, Mr Nanthakumar Rajoo, who is his brother, and his mother, Ms Vimaladewi Neelakandan - yesterday testified they had never heard of the PIC grant until they were visited by IRAS officers in 2016 as part of investigations.

They also testified they were all employed elsewhere at the time of the PIC application, were not aware they had been paid CPF monies, or that their names had been used and their signatures allegedly forged on attendance sheets for training courses.

 

The owner of another firm that made a bogus claim, Ms Shanthi, and her mother, Madam Mariana Cecilia Joseph, who was listed as one of three employees in Ms Shanthi's PIC application, also testified yesterday.

Ms Shanthi told the court she was informed by Chandran that she could use the names of her mother, as well as other relatives or friends and it was "not necessary" for them to be employed.

When asked why she thought that was legal, Ms Shanthi said Chandran told her it was "just a formality" and that he "had gone for meetings to run the PIC scheme."

Chandran had also told her it was possible the application could fail initially but that she was to inform him immediately if that happened. He assured her that "eventually it would be successful," Ms Shanthi said.

In all, Chandran is accused of helping 49 claimants to fraudulently obtain $1.1 million in PIC cash payouts and bonuses between June 2013 and November 2014, in one of the biggest cases of fraud involving the PIC scheme. So far, 19 claimants including his wife A. K. Sahtyah, have been charged in the past year under the Income Tax Act.