Five 'syndicate members' charged over $40 million SkillsFuture claims scam

File photo of Singapore’s currency. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
File photo of Singapore’s currency. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Five alleged members of a criminal syndicate have been charged for participating in a scam that resulted in close to $40 million worth of fraudulent claims made to SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

According to a press release issued by SSG on Tuesday (19 December), these offences include engaging in a conspiracy to submit forged documents to fraudulently obtain training subsidies from SSG and to conceal the benefits obtained from such criminal activities.

Preliminary police investigations revealed that the syndicate made use of nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit these fraudulent claims.

At the end of October this year, SSG detected anomalies in these claims and immediately suspended all payments of grants to the nine entities. The case was then reported to the police.

Substantial amounts of cash were seized by the police and a number of bank accounts involved in the case have been frozen, said the release.

“SSG has also taken immediate actions to tighten its processes, which include implementing fraud analytics, while conducting a comprehensive review of the system. SSG takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation that abuses its funding schemes, and will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene its funding rules and guidelines,” said the press release.

Feedback on suspicious individuals or organisations can be submitted on the SSG website. Police investigations into the case are ongoing.

Separately, two Singaporean men convicted of defrauding the SkillsFuture scheme were sentenced on Tuesday. The duo are believed to be the first to be charged for such activities.

Tan Yu Sheng, 29, and Sim Chee Kiong, 41, faced seven and six charges respectively for conspiring with Eric Zheng Zhenwei, 35, to cheat the Workforce Development agency (WDA) by submitting false claims for various courses that did not actually take place. The total amount defrauded amounted to nearly $20,000.

Tan was sentenced to eight months in jail, while Sim received a six-month sentence. Zheng has not been dealt with yet by the courts.

In February this year, SSG said it had taken action against 4,400 individuals for submitting false SkillsFuture Credit claims. Letters were sent to these individuals in an effort to recover some $2.2 million that had been given out.

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