3 Singaporeans charged with corrupt acts involving Indonesian embassy employee

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Freelance translator Abdul Aziz Mohamed Hanib, 63, insurance agent James Yeo Siew Liang, 47, and company director Benjamin Chow Tuck Keong, 55, are accused of either corruptly receiving or giving bribes. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Three Singaporeans were slapped with corruption charges on Wednesday (21 November) in relation to the selection of two insurance firms as the providers of performance bonds for Indonesian maids.

Freelance translator Abdul Aziz Mohamed Hanib, 63, insurance agent James Yeo Siew Liang, 47, and company director Benjamin Chow Tuck Keong, 55, are accused of either corruptly receiving or giving bribes between late last year and June this year.

Aziz was slapped with eight counts of corruptly receiving $71,200 on behalf of a staff member of the Indonesian embassy, Agus Ramdhany Machjumi, from Yeo, who represented AIG Asia Pacific Insurance and Liberty Insurance. The bribe was allegedly a reward for Agus showing favour to the two insurance firms.

For his part, Yeo was charged with eight counts of passing the bribes to Aziz intended for another person. As a result of his actions, the embassy accredited the insurance firms as the providers of the maid performance bonds.

Aziz also faces 10 counts of receiving $21,400 from Yeo as a reward for arranging the firms’ accreditation. Yeo was slapped with 10 counts of corruptly giving bribes to Aziz. Agus has not been charged.

Aziz is also accused of unsuccessfully seeking bribes from two representatives of Tokio Marine Insurance on behalf of Agus in relation to the performance bonds. He allegedly asked the representatives to provide bribes to Agus so that the Indonesian embassy would accredit Tokio Marine as a provider of the performance bonds.

Aziz then allegedly asked for 40 per cent commission on each performance bond sold. He faces a single count of seeking bribes for this alleged offence.

Chow, a corporate development director, is said to have introduced Aziz to Yeo, knowing that Aziz was seeking bribes for Agus in relation to the accreditation in October last year. He was charged with one count of abetting in bribery.

The prosecution offered to proceed on six charges for Yeo and seven charges on Aziz should they plead guilty.

According to a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau press release, AIG and Liberty are not currently being charged as there is no evidence to suggest that they were involved in the offences. It added that the embassy was not complicit in the offences.

Accused ask for more time

Aziz, Yeo and Chow, who were unrepresented, asked the court for more time to seek legal advice. The trio will be back in court on 17 December.

Under the performance bond scheme – applicable only to Indonesian maids – employers are required to buy a performance bond guarantee from insurers approved by the Indonesian embassy.

If employers were to breach the terms of the employment contract issued by the embassy, they will have to pay $6,000. This requirement came into effect in February this year.

Currently, AIG and Liberty are the only two approved providers of the bonds, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

If convicted, each of the men can be jailed up to five years and/or fined up to $100,000.