Training facilitator jailed 7 weeks for role in SkillsFuture Credit scam

Singapore state courts (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Singapore state courts (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

A freelance training facilitator who falsified course attendance records as part of a scam to claim money from the SkillsFuture Credit (SFC) scheme was sentenced to seven weeks’ jail on Tuesday (31 July).

Yeo Junwei Joel, 35, had earlier pleaded guilty in the State Courts to 13 charges of falsifying records. Thirteen other similar charges were taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ng Jean Ting told the court that sometime in 2016, Yeo was hired by 35-year-old Zheng Zhenwei Eric, the director of Biz HR Solutionz, to be a freelance training facilitator.

Between February and March 2016, Yeo was paid $2,000 by Zheng to sign off that 10 trainees had participated in courses conducted by Biz HR Solutionz. Neither Yeo nor any of the 10 attended the courses.

Yeo signed three more attendance records at Zheng’s instructions on 30 March that year. The former Workforce Development Agency (WDA) had been conducting an audit of Biz HR Solutionz’s operations on 29 and 30 March.

All Singaporeans aged 25 and above receive an initial $500 worth of credits under the SFC scheme to pursue accredited courses for skills development. Trainees can then submit claims to the WDA to be reimbursed for the course fees.

Endorsed by the WDA, Biz HR Solutionz had six of its courses were offered on the SFC course directory. Course fees ranged from $480 to $500.

Zheng recruited 380 bogus trainees between 1 January and 2 April 2016, paying them $150 to $200 to submit claims.

Over 290 claims were approved and $144,840 was disbursed by WDA to Biz HR Solutionz. Zheng had also enlisted two others – Sim Chee Kiong and Tan Yu Sheng – as recruiters to help get more bogus trainees.

Sim and Tan were jailed six and eight months respectively in December, while Zheng was sentenced to three years’ jail in January.

DPP Ng asked the court for at least two months’ jail for Yeo, noting that he persisted in falsifying attendance records even though he knew the WDA was auditing the company.

Defence counsel Nakoorsha Abdul Kadir asked the court for a fine of at least $4,000 instead of a jail term. He argued that Yeo was just an “untrained facilitator” who did not hold “any kind of special position” in the scam.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur disagreed with Nakoorsha, stating that the scam would have been unsuccessful without Yeo signing off as a training facilitator.

For his actions, Yeo could have been jailed up to 10 years, fined, or both, on each charge.

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