SINGAPORE: A 71-year-old former legal executive was sentenced to 18 weeks' jail on Friday (Nov 9) for bribing a Traffic Police clerk for contact details of accident victims.
Gulzar Raja Singh Sandhu pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Official Secrets Act and three charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, with 22 other charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
The court heard that Raja gave at least S$2,500 to Traffic Police clerk Khatijah A Manap between 2011 and 2013 for the contact details. Khatijah was sentenced to 18 weeks' jail in 2016 and made to pay a penalty of S$2,500.
Using the details he obtained from Khatijah, Raja would contact the accident victims and ask them to engage lawyers at Clifford Law LLP for their claims.
At the time, Raja was a legal executive at Clifford Law. He handled motor insurance claims between Feb 2011 and December 2016, and his duties included meeting and interviewing clients of the law firm.
Raja became acquainted with Khatijah after she herself was involved in a traffic accident in 2008, and a relative referred her to him.
Raja in turn introduced Khatijah, a clerk attached to the investigation branch of the Traffic Police, to his daughter, a lawyer at Clifford Law.
Khatijah had seen Raja several times at the Traffic Police headquarters, when he visited to buy official copies of traffic reports.
On one such occasion, Khatijah was on her way out of her office to buy lunch when Raja approached her, the court heard.
Raja asked Khatijah if she would work with him and give him the contact particulars of informants in police reports related to traffic accidents. He offered her S$200 for every successful contact who engaged Clifford Law services to file their claims.
Khatijah agreed and began giving him the names and contact numbers of victims. The pair would meet either at the void deck of Khatijah's flat or in Geylang Serai, where Raja would give her cash for the referrals.
The court heard that Raja later made bank transfers to Khatijah. The sum made via bank transfers came up to S$2,500, but the total amount including those in cash could not be ascertained.
SURPRISE, SUSPICION FROM ACCIDENT VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Some accident victims, along with their family members, became suspicious after they were contacted by Raja, either over the phone or in person.
One such person was Muhammad Raihan Mesdi, who was involved in a traffic accident in July 2012. Khatijah handled this case in the course of her work, and gave Mr Raihan's name and home address to Raja.
When Raja visited Mr Raihan's home, he spoke to the victim's father and asked him to file a claim through Clifford Law. Mr Raihan's father declined and became suspicious of how Raja had obtained their home address and the details of his son's traffic accident.
In another incident, a family member of another victim found it "a bit weird" that Raja knew about the accident, while one victim was surprised when contacted by Raja.
PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN POLICE UNDERMINED: PROSECUTION
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Sng asked for a sentence of 18 weeks' jail to be imposed, citing strong public interest considerations.
He said Raja had committed "numerous offences which took place over a lengthy period of time", and that his acts undermined public confidence in the Singapore Police Force.
This, Mr Sng said, threatened the reputation and good standing of the public service as a whole, especially when the need to protect personal data is considered.
Raja's defence lawyer Amolat Singh said his client asked for compassion and mercy, and has been in turmoil over his offences.
Mr Singh said the investigation and subsequent processes had taken its toll on Raja, who has begun seeing a psychologist on a monthly basis.
"He already has been sufficiently punished," said Mr Singh, adding that his client was elderly and has several ailments including endogenous eczema and urinary tract issues.
District Judge Chee Min Ping in delivering her sentence said the offences in this case were serious and resulted in a compromise of information.