SINGAPORE: Former Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine group financial controller and senior vice-president (Finance) Ong Teck Liam pleaded guilty to 10 charges on Friday (Feb 19) relating to the falsification of accounts. The total amount involved is S$48,887.
The 59-year-old, who faced a total of 118 charges, admitted to conspiring with four other senior executives to facilitate the payment of bribes to employees of ST Marine’s customers, in order to get more business from them.
Officers who negotiated and paid the cash bribes did so with the approval of key members of ST Marine’s senior management team, the court heard Friday. Records seized from the company showed at least S$24.9 million in bribes were paid over 12 years, from 2000 to 2011.
Ong, who was with ST Marine from 2007 until she retired in 2012, was asked to sign a set of cash cheques to reimburse officers for entertainment expenses that had supposedly been incurred. But she realised there were no supporting receipts for the claims, and questioned her staff from the Finance Department.
It was then that she was let in on the conspiracy – Ong was told the claims were bogus, and that in fact the money was used to pay bribes to ST Marine’s customers. This had been going on for a number of years, a senior member of the Finance Department told her. She agreed to carry on processing the false claims.
Ong was later provided a document detailing the Finance Department’s role in processing these fraudulent entertainment expenses claims, and how to avoid detection. The document also named key executives of ST Marine who could approve the disbursement of these bogus claims, including the then-chief operating officer of ST Marine, Han Yew Kwang.
Han now faces 481 charges involving about S$2.6 million in fraudulent claims.
Also named in Ong’s charges are ST Marine president See Leong Teck, ST Aerospace president Chang Cheow Teck and Teh Yew Shyan. Teh has died, and the cases of See and Chang are still before the courts.
The cases of two more key ST Marine employees are still pending – former senior vice-president Mok Kim Whang is facing 827 charges involving about S$3.1 million, and former president of commercial business Tan Mong Seng faces 456 charges involving about S$1.6 million.
Former ST Marine group financial controller Patrick Lee Swee Ching was fined S$210,000 in July last year for falsifying accounts to cover up alleged corrupt payments made by his superiors, disguised as entertainment expenses.
Ong’s case will next be heard on April 28.
She could be jailed up to 10 years and fined, per charge.