SINGAPORE — A dental surgeon who duped the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board into disbursing nearly $400,000 in bogus MediSave claims pleaded guilty to his crimes on Monday (15 April).
Daniel Liew Yaoxiang, 37, admitted to 30 out of 280 charges including conspiring to forge documents, and conspiring to cheat the CPF Board.
Liew, a former employee of The Smile Division Dental Group (TSD), had committed the offences over some three years and received half of each claim that was disbursed.
Three other parties were involved in the fraud: TSD managing director Cecil Goh Chin Chye, 48; TSD practice manager Yeo Meow Koon, 47; and TSD dentist Steven Ang Kiam Hau, 43. Goh and Yeo have yet to be dealt with, while Ang was jailed two-and-a-half-years last year.
Scheme cooked up by fellow dentist
Ang first conceived of the scheme sometime in 2009 while working at TSD’s Lucky Plaza branch.
According to the statement of facts, when Goh learnt of Ang’s ruse, he implemented it at a number of TSD clinics and encouraged the dentists there to get onboard as well.
When Liew joined the company in early 2011, he also jumped on the bandwagon and made fraudulent claims through the Hougang, Clementi and Choa Chu Kang TSD clinics where he worked.
Patients consulted at the clinics involved would be given a rough estimate of their treatment costs. They would then be given financial advice based on their MediSave account balance and be offered the option of paying for their treatments entirely through their MediSave.
If a patient agreed to using his or her MediSave to pay for the full treatment costs, the treatment would be performed over one or two days. However, multiple claims would be submitted to the CPF Board based on false surgery dates so as to circumvent the withdrawal limits.
In order to make the scam harder to detect, the surgery dates on documents submitted would be spaced apart at random in order to give the impression that the patient visited the clinic for day surgeries on multiple occasions.
For his part, Liew would also forge a different set of clinical notes for patients – which would tally with the false claims submitted. Liew would submit up to 32 claims for a single patient and claim up to $40,500 on patients who would only undergo two day surgeries.
$388,700 in claims disbursed
The CPF Board was thus deceived into disbursing the amounts claimed to the three clinics. Of these sums, Liew would receive his 50 per cent share after accounting for other costs, such as materials, medicine and anaesthesia.
Between 2011 and 2014, Liew treated 13 patients and received $388,700 from their Medisave accounts.
The CPF Board eventually discovered that the MediSave amounts claimed by certain TSD clinics were higher than those submitted by other clinics within the group. The Board then prompted the Ministry of Health (MOH) to probe the matter and the ministry lodged a police report on 14 July 2014.
Investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department revealed that, based on travel records, some of the dentists or patients were not in Singapore at the time some of the treatments were supposedly performed.
Liew has since made restitution of $470,174.49 – inclusive of interest – to the CPF Board. This sum was returned to the respective patients’ MediSave accounts.
Liew will be back in court on 3 May.
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