Singapore Technologies Marine’s (ST Marine) former group financial controller Ong Teck Liam was fined $300,000 on Monday (June 5) for her role in one of the largest graft scandals in Singapore’s corporate history.
The 61-year-old was the last of seven former ST Marine senior executives to be convicted in the scandal that broke in 2014.
Ong had earlier pleaded guilty to 10 charges of conspiring with four other senior executives to facilitate the payment of bribes – totalling $48,887 – to employees of ST Marine’s customers.
Another 108 similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Received $24.9 million in bribes:
Court documents showed that at least $24.9 million in bribes falsely claimed as entertainment expenses using petty cash vouchers – were paid between 2000 and 2011.
These corrupt payments were made in return for ship repair contracts.
Ong, who took up the post of group financial controller in 2007 until her retirement in 2012, was asked to sign a set of cash cheques that were supposedly for reimbursement of entertainment expenses.
The expenses were approved by Teh Yew Shyan, who was then senior vice-president of ST Marine’s Tuas Yard.
No supporting documents available:
However, she noticed that there were no supporting receipts for the claims and queried staff from the finance department about it.
This was an anomaly as such claims for entertainment expenses would normally require supporting receipts before they could be processed.
A senior member in the department then let on that these were not genuine claims, but in fact “cash commissions” paid to obtain sales for ST Marine.
She was also told that the practice had been going on in the company for a number of years.
Ong was later given a written document prepared in 2004 detailing the finance department’s role in processing, preparing and disbursing these claims.
Manipulation of accounts detected:
The document also had specific instructions on how to avoid detection while doing so, including that claimed amounts should not be in exact or round figures and that cheques should not be issued in running order.
Ong was also informed that former ST Marine president See Leong Teck had previously given approval for such a practice.
Of the seven, See received the heaviest sentence of 10 months’ jail and $100,000 fine.
ST Marine is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ST Engineering that provides shipbuilding, ship conversion and ship repair services.
For each count of falsifying accounts under Section 477A, Ong could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined or both.
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Source: The Straits Times