SINGAPORE: The lawyer representing a company director accused of bribing a former town council general manager on Thursday (Nov 22) charged that the prosecution's key witness was instead the mastermind behind illegal transactions that funded the alleged bribery.
The witness, sub-contractor Tay Eng Chuan, had consistently said during the trial that it was the accused Chia Sin Lan who had instructed him to perform financial transactions he found "dangerous" as they felt "immoral" and hinted of corruption.
However, Chia's lawyer Michael Loh on Thursday said that it was Mr Tay instead who masterminded the transactions that provided the funds used to "bribe" former Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) general manager Victor Wong Chee Meng.
Chia is accused of providing more than S$107,000 in gratification to Wong between December 2014 and September 2016, in return for town council contracts for his companies 19-NS2 Enterprise and 19-ANC Enterprise.
Mr Tay himself was a director and shareholder of 19-NS2, which did repairs and redecorations for town councils including AMKTC. His own company, Tay Eng Khuan General Contractors, also sub-contracted some work from 19-NS2.
Throughout the trial, Mr Tay had been asked to explain the entries he had made in 19-NS2's cashflow record, a handwritten ledger that the prosecution cited as evidence of the bribery that had allegedly taken place.
Thus far, Mr Tay had said that he had acted on Chia's instructions, and that he had felt increasingly uncomfortable with what he felt amounted to corruption.
WITNESS MAKING UP EVIDENCE AS TRIAL WENT ALONG, DEFENCE CHARGES
On Thursday, Mr Loh charged that Mr Tay was the mastermind behind the transactions that were recorded in the ledger.
"I put it to you that from the period of July 2013 to August 2016, you were conscious and you were afraid of this handwritten ledger and the source of these funds being discovered and this is the main illegality proven throughout this trial," Mr Loh said.
Mr Tay disagreed.
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Many of the alleged bribes were paid for using a debit card Chia had asked Mr Tay to apply for, which he did in the name of his own company, Tay Eng Khuan.
Mr Loh contended that Mr Tay did this to reduce his company's tax and GST liability, a point the witness rejected.
"I put it to you that between you and Chia, it was you who saw there was some advantage to 19-NS2 and ultimately to Tay Eng Khuan if Victor, through his innocent friendship with Mr Chia, could send contracts in your way, do you agree?" Mr Loh pressed.
"I disagree," Mr Tay said.
"After hearing your evidence and looking at you, this is what is clear to me," Mr Loh continued. "I put it to you that between Chia and you, you were the one who was terrified that someone, somehow, would find the ledger, and (find out) how you extorted money into the ledger."
Mr Tay again disagreed.
Mr Loh charged that Mr Tay's claims that he had acted on Chia's ideas were false and "completely made up", and that he was "making up evidence as the trial goes along".
The trial resumes on Friday.