WRS manager bribed with money, luxury handbags in exchange for her silence

·3-min read
A business handing over an envelope
A business handing over an envelope. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — For five years, contractors providing services to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) who were bribing a senior director at the Singapore zoo also bribed a manager in order to buy her silence.

In total, Chin Fong Yi, a manager of Facilities Management at WRS, received around $51,750 in gratification and later went on to receive bribes in the form of luxury items, such as handbags from Chanel and Louis Vuitton, from contractor Shin Yong Construction (SYC).

Chin, 44, pleaded guilty to nine charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and three charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. Another 67 charges will be considered for her sentencing, which was adjourned to 16 February.

Chin was employed by WRS from 2 May 2008 to 20 February 2017. Her job scope included project coordination and upgrading works, drafting job specifications, and sourcing quotes from contractors.

The director at the Singapore Zoological Gardens of WRS was Barry Chong Peng Wee, who oversaw facilities management and procurement requests to rectify defects at the zoo.

From 2005, Chong was in a corrupt agreement with key personnel from SYC, including a foreman, Too Say Kiong. SYC and the contractors that colluded with SYC would bid for WRS projects, paying “rewards” to Chong when they were awarded the projects.

Chong would send the job specifications for a project to Too and ask him to get his group of contractors to put in quotes for the project. The quotations received would be collated and presented to Chong and his managers. The project would usually be awarded to the lowest quote received.

In 2010 or 2011, Chin noticed that the prices on the quotations submitted by SYC and its group of contractors were very close to one another. She suspected that the contractors could be “price fixing” with Chong.

She asked Too if there was such an arrangement and Too asked her to “keep quiet and close one eye”, offering her a stack of $50 in exchange for her silence. Chin rejected the money.

Sometime later, however, Too offered her another stack of $50 notes.

“The accused asked (Too) what the money was for and he told her that her boss, (Chong), was taking money and asked her why she did not wish to take money as well,” said the prosecution.

Too confirmed that the contractors had fixed the prices of the quotations among themselves.

After hearing that Chong had accepted money, Chin decided to accept the stack of notes. From thereon, Chin was paid a monthly “reward” in exchange for her silence on the corrupt arrangement.

Some time in August 2014, Chin met Toh Yong Soon, a project manager at SYC who was also in on the corrupt arrangement, in Ngee Ann City for lunch.

Chin came across a Chanel wallet costing $1,250 and told Toh that she liked the wallet very much.

“(Toh) understood that the accused wanted him to buy the said wallet for her, and he proceeded to do so. The accused corruptly received the said wallet as a reward for doing an act in relation to her principal’s affairs… by exercising leniency in the supervision of works done by SYC at WRS, for which the accused was overseeing,” said the prosecution.

Chin also used other bribe monies she received to buy more luxury handbags, including a Louis Vuitton haversack and more bags from Chanel.

She was arrested on 22 February 2017.

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