Ang Mo Kio Town Council corruption case: Ex-GM had cautioned staff against taking bribes

Wong Chee Meng, 59, had failed to follow his own advice and received $86,141.49 in gratification from 63-year-old Omar Chia Sin Lan. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

The former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager who pleaded guilty to three corruption charges on Monday (25 March) had once written to his employees to remind them not to accept bribes from contractors.

In his message, Victor Wong Chee Meng also told those working under him to adhere to a strict code of conduct when doing business.

However, the 59-year-old failed to follow his own advice and went on to receive $86,141.49 in gratification from 63-year-old Omar Chia Sin Lan, a director and shareholder of two companies that did business for town councils.

The pair pleaded guilty to three counts of graft each on Monday (25 March). Chia also pleaded guilty to one charge each on behalf of his two companies over giving bribes to Wong.

Visits to KTV lounges, massage spas

From April 2008 to March 2018, Wong had been an employee of CPG Facilities – the managing agent of AMKTC. As AMKTC’s general manager and secretary, he was in charge of the town council’s operations.

Meanwhile, Chia owned two businesses, 19-ANC and 19-NS2. The former would tender for various town council works, which would then be sub-contracted to the latter.

Wong and Chia were first introduced to each other in February 2015 by shareholders of 19-NS2. The two were not friends prior to the offences.

The pair soon began to meet frequently at KTV lounges, restaurants and massage spas. During these get-togethers Chia would pay for Wong’s expenses, with the aim of furthering his businesses’ interests.

Between May 2015 and July 2016, the pair racked up expenses on alcoholic drinks, tips to KTV lounge staff, the purchase of flower garlands for KTV lounge singers and a visit to Hotel 81.

Wong received gratification amounting to $34,070.04 over these visits.

Funds for mistress

Chia also remitted money to Wong’s mistress, Chinese national Xu Hongmei.

Wong had first met Xu, a singer at the Super Star KTV lounge in Hotel Royal, in February 2015. In June that year, Xu asked Wong for 100,000 yuan (S$20135.24) to renovate her house in China. 

After Wong spoke to Chia about the matter, the latter transferred $20,000 to Xu. Over another three occasions, a total of 80,000 yuan was remitted to Xu’s bank account in China.

In November the same year, Xu told Wong that she had lost 50,000 yuan to an investment scam. Wong again approached Chia, who later remitted 50,000 yuan to Xu.

Discount on car purchase

One of Chia’s bribes also came in the form of a discount on the purchase of a car. While Wong was looking to replace around end-2014, a shareholder of 19-NS2 informed him that 19-ANC was looking to sell a 16-month-old Toyota Corolla Altis.

The shareholder quoted a selling price of $85,000 but Wong asked for a discount. After some discussion, the price was cut to $75,000. 19-NS2 also agreed to purchase Wong’s old car at $20,000, which it managed to trade in for $16,500.

As a result, Wong received a gratification amounting to $13,500.

Preferential treatment for tenders

As a result of the bribes, 19-ANC and 19-NS2 received more works from AMKTC in 2015 and 2016 compared with 2014.

From being awarded $9,819 in tender contracts in 2014, prior to Wong receiving any gratification from Chia, the two companies went on to win contracts worth $158,262 in 2015 and $121,150 in 2016.

Wong would recommend Chia’s two companies for tenders over other lower bidders, claiming that 19-ANC or 19-NS2 had more experience or had more favourable qualities than their competitors.

Chia and Wong are expected to be sentenced on Friday.

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