A school bus provider who made false claims about his ability to provide transport services to primary schools ended up causing one school to spend $48,000 in alternative transport arrangements for students.
Adrian Lee Chong Boon, 41, was found guilty by District Judge Kessler Soh in the State Courts on Tuesday (17 April) of two counts of cheating and one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) after he claimed trial to the charges.
As the director of Sindoz Group Pte Ltd, Lee had originally been charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which covers CBT by a public servant, or by a banker, merchant, or agent.
In light of the High Court ruling in the City Harvest Church case that directors cannot be considered as “agents” under Section 409, the charge was downgraded to one of CBT under Section 406, which carries a lighter punishment, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting.
In 2014, Lee had submitted quotations for school bus services to two schools – Red Swastika School and Coral Primary School. Representing Sindoz, he said that the company had a fleet of 237 buses and a wide clientele. These representations were “entirely false”, said district judge Soh.
The judge found that the principals of both schools were deceived by Lee’s false representations into awarding Sindoz the contract for school bus services and Sindoz ultimately fell short in fulfilling the schools’ needs.
According to media reports, parents of some children at Red Swastika School and Coral Primary School had paid Lee deposits but transport arrangements were not made for their children, and some were left waiting for an hour on the first day of school.
As a result, Red Swastika School spent $48,830 in finding alternate transport services for students. Similarly, Coral Primary School spent $10,450 to find alternate transport for students affected by Lee’s false claims.
The judge also found Lee guilty of committing criminal breach of trust when he took $1,990.85 from Sindoz’s bank account. The judge rejected Lee’s claim that he took the money as a loan from the company.
The prosecution said it intends to seek a total jail term of 11 months and a $3,000 fine.
Lee will be back in court on 22 May. He is out on $30,000 bail.
The maximum punishment for CBT is a jail term of seven years, a fine or both. The maximum punishment for cheating is a jail term of up to three years, a fine or both.
Note: The Ministry of Education has clarified that it was Coral Primary School and not the Ministry of Education which spent $10,450 in alternate transport arrangements. This article has been updated accordingly.
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