For nearly two years, Victor Wong Chee Meng, the former general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC), allegedly received a steady stream of bribes totalling $107,336.50.
The 58-year-old purportedly took the kickbacks from Omar Chia Sin Lan, 62, the director and major shareholder of two firms, whose core business is the carrying out of works for town councils. Wong currently faces 55 charges of corruption for offences committed between December 2014 and September 2016.
Chia’s two companies, 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise, were also awarded tenders and contracts by AMKTC worth millions of dollars during the time that Wong accepted the bribes. Chia also faces 55 counts of graft.
“The lion’s share of the gratification, some $52,893.07, was in the form of entertainment expenses incurred by Victor Wong and Omar Chia at various KTV lounges and massage parlours, which the two frequented regularly at night,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Alan Loh while laying out the prosecution’s case at the start of the duo’s trial on Tuesday (25 September) morning.
Abuse of power
Wong allegedly received a discount of about $13,500 on his purchase of a Toyota Altis owned by Chia’s two companies. Chia also purportedly paid for about $30,000 in remittances to Wong’s mistress in China.
He also allegedly paid for a mobile phone line that allowed Wong and his mistress to make free calls to China, and employed Wong’s daughter-in-law at a subcontractor of Chia’s companies.
“As the general manager of AMKTC, Victor Wong had the power and ability to influence the award of AMKTC projects. Victor Wong was expected to act with absolute probity, particularly because his job involved the administration of public funds,” said DPP Loh in the prosecution’s opening statement.
“Instead of exercising his role impartially without favour, Victor Wong fell far short of the high standards of integrity demanded of his office and allowed himself to be cultivated by Omar Chia and had become beholden to him,” DPP Loh added.
Both accused out on bail
The trial is scheduled to be heard till November before District Judge John Ng. Wong is represented by lawyer Melanie Ho while Chia is defended by Michael Loh. Both men are currently out on bail of $100,00 each.
If found guilty of corruption involving a public body, both men face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or a jail term of up to seven years each per charge.
In December 2016, it was reported that Wong was being investigated by anti-graft investigators. Wong, who worked for CPG Facilities Management – AMKTC’s managing agent – was asked to go on leave following a complaint filed against him in September 2016. He was removed from his positions at the town council in November that year.
AMKTC oversees the housing estates in Ang Mo Kio GRC. The town council’s chairman is Ang Hin Kee and the other six members are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Gan Thiam Poh, Intan Azura Mokhtar, Koh Poh Koon, Lam Pin Min and Darryl David.