Ex-RSAF engineer who cheated Government over $1.8M contracts jailed

An external view of the entrance to the Singapore State Court in Singapore on March 5, 2015
An external view of the entrance to the Singapore State Court in Singapore on March 5, 2015

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) engineer who failed to disclose that he was involved in the companies he recommended to the RSAF for contracts was jailed 25 months and six weeks on Friday (27 July).

Rajkumar Padmanathan, 49, had earlier pleaded guilty to 28 counts of corruption, cheating and breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Rajkumar joined RSAF in 1989 and became Bay In-Charge of Fire Control Flight Tengah Air base between 2008 and 2012 before he resigned on 31 July 2012.

Part of his job scope as Bay IC included raising requests for repair or maintenance works, which required independent contractors to tender for works. He would propose the contractors that submitted quotations to his superiors, who relied on his recommendations to award the contracts.

While still an RSAF engineer, Rajkumar set up Goodwill Aviations System (GAS) on 19 May 2010 with his wife Jayashree, who was fronting as the sole director and shareholder. The actual owner was Rajkumar, who directed his wife to oversee the jobs that GAS tendered for. GAS had submitted quotations for aircraft repair and maintenance works required by the RSAF.

Rajkumar, who was familiar with the lowest price to quote, would then recommend GAS for works.

As a result, between October 2010 and June 2012, GAS was awarded 99 jobs with a total value of $868,994. Rajkumar used the profit for his personal uses, including funding another business.

In late 2010, Rajkumar approached his friend, co-accused Jeevan Arumugam, to register a company for the same scam. Jeevan would lead the company while Rajkumar would assist him and eventually join him after leaving the RSAF. They incorporated the company Eagle Flight Aviation Services (EFAS).

Between April 2011 and June 2012, EFAS was awarded 67 jobs totalling $632,528.

Rajkumar also entered into an agreement with another company, Duratech, to submit quotations for RSAF repair and maintenance works and to subcontract the works to GAS and EFAS. The director of Duratech, Ng Meng Heok, was not aware that Rajkumar was involved in the two companies.

After he left RSAF, Rajkumar joined One Marina as a Technical Officer at Sembawang Air Base with a similar job scope. Rajkumar continued the scheme, with EFAS being awarded 14 jobs worth $29,090 between 16 December 2013 and 18 August 2014.

While working at One Marina, Rajkumar became acquainted with the director of Global Trade Well (GTW), Kamal Kishore, and agreed that GTW would bid for RSAF works. The two agreed to split the profit equally between themselves. Although Kamal knew that Rajkumar worked in Sembawang Air Base, Rajkumar did not tell Kamal about his job scope.

As a result, between May and December 2014, GTW was awarded 10 jobs with a total value of $27,506.87.

The total value of contracts awarded to GAS, EFAS, Duratech and GTW is $1,817,379.87.

In 2014, Rajkumar came to know Sung Way Xiong, a fellow RSAF engineer who had access to confidential pricing information in the RSAF system. He suggested to Sung to provide him with the prices of items in RSAF’s inventory and said that if his aviation business were to perform well, he would employ Sung and give him a good pay package after his RSAF career was over. Rajkumar also promised to share the profits with Sung.

Sung agreed to the scheme and gave Rajkumar confidential information. However, he was not employed by Rajkumar and did not receive any of the profits. Sung was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail in May for his role in the scheme.

Jeevan, who is accused of conspiring with Rajkumar to cover up his interest in EFAS, has claimed trial. His hearing will be heard in August.