A man and his nephew were given jail sentences yesterday for cheating Pizza Hut of almost $77,000 by falsely stating the number of hours of delivery services and riders provided to the pizza chain.
Derek Oon Choon Seng, 54, and his nephew Alvin Woon Boon Chye, 34, were sentenced to 10 months and eight months respectively, but they will start serving their sentences on Feb 23. The defence is considering filing an appeal.
The two men were found guilty last September of 81 charges of cheating Pizza Hut by making false representations on the number of hours of delivery services and riders provided by Uno-Del. The firm was run by Woon to provide delivery services to Pizza Hut under a 2007 contract. The payments by Pizza Hut totalled $76,893.
The charges pertained to five Pizza Hut outlets managed by Oon, who was area manager during the time of the offences between September 2007 and November 2009.
Oon did not disclose his relationship with Woon to Pizza Hut, which discovered it by chance in 2010.
District Judge John Ng said it was not in dispute that Pizza Hut was misled into making payments for a certain number of hours of delivery services that was higher than the actual hours rendered by Uno-Del. The issue was whether both men were involved in a conspiracy to cheat Pizza Hut, he added.
The prosecution said evidence showed that Oon had capitalised on the knowledge that Pizza Hut was looking for third-party delivery vendors and had helped his nephew to secure the deal.
Under their agreement signed in May 2007, Uno-Del was only required to provide delivery riders to Pizza Hut and no other type of staff.
But prosecution witnesses from Pizza Hut had testified that Oon instructed them to hire kitchen staff on Uno-Del terms which he said could save on costs for the pizza chain, but this violated the terms of the agreement.
Judge Ng rejected the defence position that the prosecution witnesses were lying. "This desperate attempt by both of them to cast spurious aspersions on the RMs (restaurant managers) was unfounded and most unfair,'' he said.
In sentencing, the judge took into account that this case was not a cheating scam per se, but one of dishonest conduct by Oon and Woon to increase the profitability of Uno-Del in the course of carrying out business with Pizza Hut.
He also noted that the dishonest gains had been clawed back.