SINGAPORE: Two Daewoo Engineering and Construction executives, who gave bribes to a Land Transport Authority (LTA) deputy group director while working on their company's first project in Singapore, were jailed for eight months on Tuesday (May 18).
Kim Young-Gyu, a 52-year-old director, and Ro Sungyoung, a 49-year-old project manager, pleaded guilty to a charge each of conspiring to bribe Henry Foo Yung Thye with S$30,000. Each man had a second charge involving another S$20,000 taken into consideration for sentencing.
Kim and Ro are the first to be sentenced in a wide-ranging corruption case where Foo, who was the deputy group director of the Thomson-East Coast and Cross-Island Lines, is accused of taking about S$1.24 million in bribes.
The judge noted that both men did not actively seek to cultivate Foo, but said that it was "not completely for selfless reasons" when they eventually gave in. Instead, they gave the bribes to benefit themselves and Daewoo, she said.
LTA awarded the main contract for the construction of the Stevens MRT station to Daewoo for S$441 million in April 2014. This was the first time Daewoo was awarded a project in Singapore.
Kim and Ro worked on the project and reported to Foo for official quarterly meetings with LTA.
Foo, who also chaired the tender evaluation committee for the project and had powers to commit LTA to additional expenditures, began asking Ro for loans in mid-2018.
Ro was afraid to offend the high-ranking LTA officer and discussed the matter with Kim, his boss. Kim rejected the notion angrily at first, as he knew it was against both Daewoo's policies and Singapore law.
However, Foo kept pursuing Ro for loans, until Kim and Ro decided they could no longer reject him. They hoped that agreeing to his loan request would put them on friendly terms with Foo and facilitate the smooth progress of train station works.
Kim also feared that Foo might apply "time pressure" on Daewoo if they offended him and influence LTA's inspections of their work.
The pair also hoped the loan would stand them in good stead to be awarded future LTA projects, especially in comparison with other contractors who had not given money to Foo.
Ro lent Foo S$30,000 after Foo sent him a text message on Dec 31, 2018, saying he needed to raise a sum of money urgently for family issues.
After lending Foo the money, Ro began asking Foo for help in return. He turned to Foo in May 2019 after an LTA officer inspected the train station worksite and given Daewoo a negative score for infringements of safety or cleanliness.
READ: Former LTA deputy group director charged with taking S$1.24 million in bribes, cheating colleagues
Foo said he would help by speaking to LTA's group director of safety and contracts. But his intervention did not change the score, and Daewoo did not clinch a project on the Jurong Region Line they had put in a bid for.
In August 2019, Foo sent Ro a confidential screenshot of an assessment by the LTA tender evaluation committee, after Ro asked him why Daewoo had failed in the first stage of an LTA tendering process for the construction of tunnels at Changi Airport.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau caught wind of the corruption and the trio were nabbed.
Prosecutors had called for eight months' jail for Kim and Ro, while defence lawyers asked for a high fine, or three to four weeks' jail and no more than six months' jail in the alternative.
Foo is set for a pre-trial conference in June. He faces 36 charges that range from taking bribes from contractors or subcontractors to cheating his colleagues into giving him loans between 2008 and 2019.
The cases for several other co-accused are pending.