A former Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) executive who appealed against his jail term for corruption had his sentence reduced by two weeks in the High Court on Monday (16 April).
Following a seven-day trial last June, 45-year-old Alex Ong Boon Chuan was convicted in the State Courts and sentenced to 22 weeks’ jail and also ordered to pay a $39,000 penalty. This was reduced to 20 weeks’ jail and a $22,800 penalty following his successful appeal.
Ong had been found guilty on five charges of corruptly obtaining loans of between $1,000 and $16,000 from Kenneth Ng Soon Yong, the director of Mecflou.
Ong was responsible for the construction and installation of the Transformers theme ride at Universal Studios Singapore (USS), and Mecflou was a subcontractor which did mechanical works for the project.
Ong had asked for five loans from Ng even though this was against RWS’ code of conduct and also reflected a conflict of interest. There were two loans of $1,000, one loan of $5,000 and two loans of $16,000.
Ng gave the loans to Ong so that Ong would not delay progress payments for the USS project. Ng then concealed these loans by falsifying documents to make false expense claims.
In October 2015, Ng was jailed 18 weeks after he pleaded guilty to charges that included cheating, falsifying documents and corruption.
During Monday’s hearing, Ong’s lawyer Melanie Ho produced a personal bank account statement showing that one of the loans amounting to $15,800 had been repaid. Ho said one of the loan amounts was $15,800 and not $16,000.
She also produced an image of a cheque for $15,800 issued by Ng from his personal bank account. Ho argued that Ong was not aware that Ng had falsified documents to claim the cheque amount as a business expense.
Last June, the district judge’s findings based on evidence had shown that no repayment of the loans had been made.
Ho said that, as a layperson, Ong did not understand the significance of not producing this cheque image in court during the State Courts trial.
Justice Chua Lee Ming allowed the cheque image to be admitted as evidence and said he was “disturbed” that the cheque had not been produced during Ong’s trial.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jiang Ke-Yue maintained the prosecution’s position that the amounts given by Ng were intended as gifts and that there was no evidence of the loans being repaid.
Jiang also sought for Ong’s 22-week jail term to be upheld, saying that Ong was the initiator of the bribes, had abused his position and that 22 weeks was not “manifestly excessive”.
In response, Ho said that the prosecution had not raised specific reasons why the evidence presented by the bank statements did not hold. Ho also said there was no other evidence that the prosecution could rely on to assert that there was no repayment of one of the loans.
Ho sought a reduction in sentence for one of the charges, saying that Ng had committed more offences and was jailed 18 weeks. In light of this, Ong should be jailed only 14 weeks or less, said Ho.
Justice Chua said he was satisfied with the district judge’s conclusion that the loans obtained were corruptly intended. He also gave Ong the benefit of the doubt about the repayment of one of the $15,800 loans.
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