Forklift operator jailed 2 months for taking mostly $1 bribes

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Chen Ziliang, 47, pleaded guilty to one charge of graft. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

A forklift operator at a container yard allowed truck drivers to beat a queue to load or unload their containers in return for small sums of 10 cents to $1, a court heard.

For two years, Chen Ziliang collected about $7 to $10 daily from the corrupt practice.

By the time anti-graft officers caught him red-handed, the 47-year-old Chinese national had accepted $4,872.50 in bribes.

At the State Courts on Thursday (10 January), Chen was jailed for two months and ordered to pay a penalty of $4,870.50. If he fails to pay the amount, he would have to serve another two weeks in jail.

Worked six days a week

Chen worked for Cogent Container Depot from January 2008 to March last year. The company provides container storage services.

Truck drivers of Cogent’s customers would go to a container yard where forklift operators would load or unload their containers.

Chen worked six days a week earning $2,600. He worked at a container yard at Jalan Terusan until February 2016, when he was deployed to another yard at Buroh Crescent. Both places are in Jurong.

In October 2017, a truck driver complained to Chen about having to wait for a long time in the queue. Chen then told him that the norm was to give $1, otherwise the truck driver had to risk having to wait longer in the queue.

Caught red-handed

In March last year, acting on a tip-off, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau raided the yard Chen was working at. He was caught accepting two $1 coins from two truck drivers. The anti-graft officers seized the $2.

Chen said he knew there was a practice of taking cash from truck drivers in return for letting them jump the queue for the collection or return of containers.

Chen started taking the bribes from 1 February 2016. Truck drivers would place coins ranging from 10 cents to $1 at the mudguard of the forklift that he was operating on. Chen would then pocket the cash during breaks.

For graft, Chen could have been jailed up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

In a statement in December last year, after Chen was charged in court, the CPIB reiterated that Singapore adopts a “zero-tolerance approach” towards corruption.

“Employees are expected to carry out their duties fairly instead of obtaining bribes in exchange for favours. Even if the bribe amount is as low as $1, they can be taken to task. Bribes of any amount or any kind will not be tolerated,” the anti-graft agency said.

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