SINGAPORE: Two former employees of SPRING Singapore were sentenced to jail on Tuesday (Jun 6) for cheating the statutory board of S$50,000 by making false claims.
Soh Hua Xiang and I Shu Hui, both 30, had also tried to cheat the board of another S$145,000 before they were caught. Mr Soh was sentenced to 15 months’ jail and Ms I, his girlfriend, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
The couple had pleaded guilty last month - Mr Soh to 21 charges and Ms I to 20 - for teaming up to cheat their employer.
Mr Soh had worked for SPRING for four years until he quit in 2015, frustrated that his boss was not convinced that a scheme he had a hand in developing had “some loopholes”, defence lawyer Che Wei Chin said.
Mr Soh had helped set up the innovation and capabilities voucher (ICV) scheme, which aims to help SMEs grow by disbursing grants of up to S$40,000.
The disgruntled ex-employee, together with his girlfriend Ms I, a finance manager at SPRING, conspired to cheat the statutory board by submitting fake claims for ICVs. “What (they) did was necessary … to highlight the loopholes to SPRING”, Mr Che said.
But District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan did not agree. He said that if the couple had wanted to expose weaknesses in the system, “they did not have to do through 40 transactions”.
Mr Soh submitted multiple false claims totaling S$50,000 to SPRING in August 2015.
He created fake email addresses, forged quotations, invoices and receipts and doctored photographs to fool the statutory board. Once SPRING approved the claims, Ms I, as finance manager, would approve the disbursement of the ICV grants into Mr Soh’s bank account.
The couple pocketed S$50,000 using this modus operandi.
Mr Soh had submitted more false claims totaling S$145,000, but before SPRING could disburse the money, he asked Ms I to recall the forged documents he had sent in.
SPRING lodged a police report on May 26. Judge Shaiffudin said Mr Soh was more culpable than his girlfriend, sentencing him to 15 months’ jail and Ms I to 12 months.
In court on Tuesday, the couple apologised for their actions. Mr Soh said he was sorry for cheating his former employer, and apologised to “all the people I’ve disappointed and hurt”.
Ms I said she would like her former colleagues at SPRING to know she is sorry.
For cheating, the couple could have faced up to 10 years’ jail per charge and a fine.