Ex-Keppel Shipyard procurement officer took over $740,000 in bribes over 14 years
A former senior procurement officer with Keppel Shipyard pocketed more than $740,000 in kickbacks over a 14-year period, a court heard.
Neo Kian Siong, 63, used part of the criminal proceeds to pay the outstanding loan on a condominium, and buy two cars.
At the State Courts on Friday (15 February), Neo pleaded guilty to 26 charges of graft and 28 counts involving criminal proceeds.
Another 52 charges of corruption and 289 counts involving criminal proceeds will be considered for his sentencing at a later date.
Neo joined Keppel Shipyard in 1981 as a clerical assistant. He took his first kickback of $4,000 in 2000, when he was a senior purchasing/stores coordinator. He was then responsible for procuring supplies, including raw materials, pipes and pipe fittings.
Neo was heavily involved in the purchasing of items. In 2014 alone, he handled 8,000 purchase orders. He had the discretion to choose suitable suppliers for a given need and to issue requests for quotations to these suppliers. He also had access to prices quoted by suppliers, which was confidential information.
But Neo took bribes from suppliers in return for revealing quotes submitted by other suppliers to Keppel Shipyard. This allowed complicit suppliers to submit the lowest quote and thereby obtain orders from the shipyard.
He admitted that he would also try to invite corrupt suppliers to bid for the company’s orders and then award the orders to them.
Sometime in 2000, the founding director of Kim Seng Huat, Ong Chim Sum, told Neo that he needed help to expand his business with Keppel Shipyard. Ong said he would give Neo a share of profits obtained from sales to the shipyard. Neo pocketed $56,000 from Ong over 10 occasions between 2000 and 2009.
Neo also took $97,500 from Ong’s son, Ong Tong Yang alias Andy, over six occasions from 2011 to 2014. The latter would ask Neo repeatedly for the lowest quotes submitted by other suppliers of Keppel Shipyard. A sales manager of Kim Seng Huat also called Neo twice a week on average to ask for such information.
Similarly, Neo got $30,000 from the founder and managing director of First Hydraulic, Ong Swee Tek alias Tony, over 29 occasions between 2007 and 2014. Ong would call Neo about five times a year to ask for the lowest quotes submitted by other suppliers. A sales executive of First Hydraulic also called Neo two or three times a month to ask for such information.
Neo also pocketed $27,600 from Athical Engineering founder Juliana Lee May Ling over 10 occasions between 2008 and 2014. Neo would reveal to Lee the lowest quotes submitted by other suppliers.
The total sum of bribes in all the charges Neo faced amounted to $265,000. But anti-graft investigators found a joint bank account that belonged to Neo and his wife, with large deposits that could not be traced to either of their salaries. Neo admitted to investigators that a total sum of $740,162.56 that was deposited between July 2007 and April 2014 consisted of bribes.
In February 2014, Neo used part of the kickbacks he pocketed to pay the outstanding loan of $54,010.58 for a Hillview Avenue condominium, which he had bought with his wife for $846,400 in 1998.
He also used the ill-gotten money on a Honda Odyssey, a Volkswagen Passat, insurance premiums, shares and time deposits.
Neo is expected to be sentenced on 17 April. He faces up to five years’ jail and a fine of up to $100,000 for each count of graft.
Other Singapore stories:
Forklift operator jailed 4 months for taking bribes of a few cents to $1
Transport Masterplan 2040: Advisory panel releases 9 recommendations
Two radicalised Singaporeans detained under ISA for involvement in terrorism-related activities