Former Keppel Shipyard officer accepted S$700,000 in bribes over 14 years

Former Keppel Shipyard officer accepted S$700,000 in bribes over 14 years

Keppel says it has put in place enhanced compliance controls to prevent any repeat of the bribery
Keppel says it has put in place enhanced compliance controls to prevent any repeat of the bribery scandal. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A former senior procurement office with Keppel Shipyard pleaded guilty on Friday (Feb 15) to 54 charges of corruption and money laundering after taking more than S$700,000 in bribes.

Neo Kian Siong, who was responsible for procuring supplies for Keppel Shipyard, took the bribes over 14 years before he was found out, TODAY reported.

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty on Friday to 54 of the 395 charges involving corruption and money laundering. The rest of his charges will be taken into consideration during sentencing, which is expected on April 17.

The bribes were used to pay off outstanding loans on houses and cars, buying shares in several firms and funding a number of insurance premiums, it was reported.

He used more than S$54,000 to pay for outstanding loans on a unit in Chantilly Rise condominium in Bukit Batok, and more than S$132,000 in deposits for two cars - a Honda Odyssey and a Volkswagen Passat.

Neo also used that money to buy S$38,000 worth of shares belonging to Keppel Corporation, Tiger Airways, Liongold Corp and Innopac Holdings, and to fund a number of insurance premiums.

He remains out on bail of S$50,000.

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During his time at Keppel, suppliers would contact Neo for information on quotations submitted by their competitors so as to undercut bids and win orders. At least eight suppliers had offered Neo kickbacks for his help.

The suppliers who paid Neo bribes included Ong Chim Sum, founding director of piping component supplier Kim Seng Huat. Ong gave Neo S$56,000 on 10 occasions from 2000 to 2009.

He had first approached Neo in 2000 asking for help to expand his firm's business with Keppel Shipyard. In return, Ong promised Neo a share of the company’s profits from sales to Keppel, TODAY cited Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eugene Sng as saying.

Neo then came up with the idea to inform Ong of the lowest quote in order to undercut the bid.

Ten years later, Ong introduced his son who continued the arrangement.

Ong's son, Andy Ong Tong Yang, paid Neo S$97,500 on six occasions from 2011 to 2014, reported TODAY.

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Keppel Shipyard Singapore
Foreign vessels berth alongside the wharf for repairs at the Singapore Keppel Shipyard. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)


Founder and managing director of piping component supplier First Hydraulic and Industrial Tony Ong Swee Tek, was also found to have paid Neo S$30,000 on 29 occasions between 2007 and 2014 for the lowest quotes.

An additional S$27,600 was also paid to Neo by Juliana Lee May Ling, founder of copper-nickel fitting supplier Athical Engineering, on 10 occasions between 2008 and 2014, reported TODAY.

With Lee, Neo agreed to reveal the lowest bids after she offered “ang pows”, the court was told.

In 2014, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) probed Neo after large deposits were made into the joint bank account he shared with his wife. The deposits could not be traced back to their salaries. 

CPIB then seized two of Neo's bank accounts, which had a balance of about S$150,500, along with 11 insurance policies with a total cash value of about S$730,200.

Neo was dismissed from Keppel Shipyard in early 2016.

Source: CNA/aa(mi)