SINGAPORE - A customer service officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and her daughter were taken to court on Thursday (Oct 10) for allegedly receiving a bribe to expedite the process for a Malaysian woman applying to become a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR).
Lucy Teo, 49, was accused of conspiring with Sharon Loo Wai Woon, 28, to corruptly obtain $1,500 from Fenny Tey Hui Neeto speed up her PR application.
Teo and Loo are Singaporeans. The Straits Times understands that they are mother and daughter, and Loo, who worked at an immigration consultancy firm, had allegedly introduced the Malaysian to her mother.
A joint release by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that all three women were charged in court on Thursday for their alleged offences that took place in 2017 and 2018.
Under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Teo and Loo face two charges each for allegedly receiving the bribe and could face a maximum punishment of five years’ jail and a $100,000 fine.
Teo also faces 20 counts of unauthorised access into ICA’s Central Identification and Registration Information System (CIRIS).
She had allegedly entered the system without authority a total of 20 times - 11 times to retrieve Tey’s PR application status records, thrice to access a man’s passport number records, and on six occasions accessed another woman’s PR application status records.
These offences are punishable under the Computer Misuse Act. Teo could face a fine of up to $5,000 or be jailed for up to two years, or both, if found guilty of the offences.
The joint release did not include information on the other two individuals whose records Teo had allegedly checked.
Tey, the 24-year-old Malaysian, faces two counts of corruptly giving the $1,500 bribe to Teo as an inducement to expedite her Singapore PR application. This is an offence punishable with up to five years’ jail and a $100,000 fine.
In response to queries, the ICA said its officers are expected to maintain a high standard of integrity and it takes a serious view of errant officers.
The agency reported Teo to the police after the case was detected through its internal checks and investigations.
Teo has been interdicted from service since Dec 19 last year (2018).
The ICA also regularly reminds its officers about the expected conduct and behaviour when using its IT systems and reinforces the message that there is no tolerance for misconduct.
Both the CPIB and SPF said: “Public officers are entrusted with the custody and maintenance of government systems and the data therein. They are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standard of conduct and integrity.
“The police will deal severely with public officers who mishandle any government systems and the data therein, including charging them in court.
They added: “Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. It is a serious offence to accept or obtain bribes from another individual or entity.”
The trio will be back in court on Nov 7 for further mention of their case.