Man who cheated SBS Transit of over $200,000 jailed 11 months

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

A man who cheated SBS Transit of more than $200,000 through a company he set up to carry out the scam was jailed 11 months on Friday (22 June).

Koh Dawei, 34, had earlier pleaded guilty to 20 cheating charges involving about $66,610. Another 113 cheating charges involving over $145,000 were taken into consideration. The total amount involved in the scam was $211,803.

Court documents show that Koh set up a company called Azech Engineering sometime in 2013 while he was employed as an operations manager by Venda Engineering and Trading. Venda was contracted by SBS to do routine maintenance at Soon Lee bus depot.

Azech was paid by SBS to do ad-hoc servicing. The work, however, was done by either one of Venda’s two technicians during working hours. Neither Venda nor SBS was aware of this arrangement.

The scam, which ended sometime in 2015, was facilitated by Ong Sang Fei, a 47-year-old foreman for SBS at the depot.

Ong would tell Koh when ad-hoc jobs arose and suggested the prices Azech should quote for the jobs. Ong also recommended Azech to his superior to ensure it got the contracts. He claimed that Azech was owned by Koh’s superior, who was the registered owner of Venda.

Koh used a pseudonym when signing documents related to Azech to hide his involvement with the company.

The ad-hoc jobs were worth up to $5,000 each. Ong would get 83 per cent of the payments Azech received, with the rest going to Koh.

In addition, Ong used part of his share to pay the technicians about $500 to $600 after they completed a few jobs for Azech. Court documents do not show how the scam was uncovered or if the technicians were aware of it.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eugene Sng asked the court to impose at least 12 months’ jail for Koh. Venda was deprived of its workers’ labour during working hours as they were diverted to do Azech’s jobs, DPP Sng said.

As a result, Venda had to pay SBS liquidated damages for a backlog in work, as well as overtime pay for its technicians.

In mitigation, Koh’s lawyer Josephus Tan said that the Ong was the mastermind and his client only had a 17 per cent share of the money received. He asked for no more than eight months’ jail.

Ong was sentenced in April to one year’s jail for his role in the scam.

For cheating, Koh could have been jailed up to three years, or fined, or both.