Singapore civil servant facing 455 fraud charges

A Singaporean civil servant appeared in court Thursday on 455 charges of cheating the government totalling more than Sg$600,000 ($460,000), authorities and a media report said. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that clerical officer Liew Chee Meng was alleged to have forged documents to approve the purchase of gift vouchers for his personal benefit between 2007 and early this year. Subsequent investigations led to the seizure of almost Sg$475,000 worth of goods from the accused, the MHA said. "A civilian clerical officer from the Ministry of Home Affairs... was charged in court today for forgery, cheating, criminal breach of trust and conversion of proceeds of crime," it said. "The offences relate to acts allegedly committed in the course of his employment with the ministry. The total amount involved is Sg$617,087." Liew, 35, is alleged to have committed 455 offences, according to the Straits Times website. The MHA said Liew's actions were uncovered in January after an internal audit following a corruption case involving a senior civil servant with a penchant for Italian supercars. In that case Koh Seah Wee, formerly a deputy director of information technology at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) was sentenced last month to 22 years in jail for cheating the government of more than Sg$12 million. A former colleague of his was sentenced to 15 years. Large-scale graft cases are rare in Singapore, a thriving financial centre and business hub which enjoys a reputation for being the least corrupt country in Asia. It pays its civil servants some of the highest government salaries in the world as a deterrent to corruption.

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