5 men charged with graft over under-reporting weight of airplane passengers' baggages

Singapore’s Changi Airport. Five men were hauled to court on Wednesday (10 April) for graft charges involving the under-reporting of the weight of passengers’ baggages in a flight check-in computer system.
Singapore’s Changi Airport. Five men were hauled to court on Wednesday (10 April) for graft charges involving the under-reporting of the weight of passengers’ baggages in a flight check-in computer system.

SINGAPORE – Five men were charged at the State Courts on Wednesday (10 April) for taking and receiving bribes in relation to under-reporting the weight of passengers’ baggages in a flight check-in computer system.

The crimes took place from between January 2016 and July last year.

Two of the men – Singaporeans Gerizim Kirubai Raj Deved, 35, and Mohammad Haris Mohammad Ali, 23 – were working as customer service associates for SATS Asia Pacific Star.

The company is a ground handling service provider and a subsidiary of SATS, Changi Airport’s chief ground-handling and in-flight catering service provider.

Between January and July last year, Gerizim allegedly got at least $630 in bribes from a person known as Gajendran Ramesh.

Haris purportedly took kickbacks in the form of at least six packets of cigarettes worth about $66 from a person known only to the authorities as Ahmad between April and May last year.

Both Gerizim and Haris have since been sacked.

Another two men – Singapore permanent resident Ayyadurai Karunanithi, 47, and Indian national Patel Hiteshkumar Chandubhai, 37 – were working as customer service associates for UBTS, a logistics service provider.

Between April and May last year, Ayyadurai allegedly got at least $500 in bribes from a person known as Saravanan Muthuraja.

Patel allegedly took at least $800 in kickbacks from Indian national Gopal Krishna Raju, 37, between January and October 2016.

Gerizim, Ayyadurai, Patel, and Gopal indicated in court that they intend to plead guilty to their graft charges. Their cases will be mentioned again later this month.

Meanwhile, a pre-trial conference for Haris has been fixed for next month.

Bail was set at $5,000 for Gerizim, Haris, Ayyadurai and Gopal, and $2,500 for Patel. If found guilty, the five men can be fined up to $100,000 along with a jail term of up to five years.

The status of investigations into the alleged involvement of the three other persons in the graft incidents is unclear.

In a statement released after the men were charged, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said, “We do not tolerate bribery even when the amount is small because some corrupt acts can possibly lead to the compromise of our public safety.”

“Corrupt practices of such nature will not only tarnish the excellent reputation of Singapore’s Changi Airport but more importantly, it may undermine our safety in air travel,” the anti-graft agency added.

Members of the public can lodge graft complaints and reports in writing, via 1800-376-0000, at cpib.gov.sg/e-complaint or via email at report@cpib.gov.sg.

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