Suspects charged in S$40m SkillsFuture claims scam

Suspects charged in S$40m SkillsFuture claims scam

Five suspected members of a criminal syndicate have been charged with a series of offences, which resulted in close to S$40 million in fraudulent claims being paid out by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

SINGAPORE: Five suspected members of a criminal syndicate have been charged with a series of offences, which resulted in close to S$40 million in fraudulent claims being paid out by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

In a news release on Tuesday (Dec 19), SSG said the offences include “engaging in a conspiracy to submit forged documents to fraudulently obtain training subsidies from SSG, and to conceal the benefits from such criminal conduct". 

According to the press release, police seized substantial cash and froze a number of bank accounts involved in the case, the release added.

Charge sheets showed the group is comprised of three men and two women. One of them, 39-year-old Lim Wee Hong David, faces seven charges – the highest among the group.

Lim was charged with four counts of acquiring a total of S$1.8 million in cash from a Vincent Peter when he had reasonable grounds to believe it was criminal proceeds. 

He was also charged with perverting the course of justice, concealing S$600,000 in criminal proceeds by “causing a computer to perform a function for the purpose of securing access to a program with intent to commit cheating" and giving false information to a Commercial Affairs Officer.

One of the two women, Lee Lai Leng, was accused of forging a CPF Board document in March to cheat Skillsfuture Singapore into disbursing course fee subsidies to Ky and Lin Firm.  

The 39-year-old was also charged with "intentionally perverting the course of justice" by telling another suspect, 30-year-old Lee Chi Wai, to reformat his phone, which contained proof of their dealings. She threw her own phone near Henderson Wave. 

Additionally, Lee was charged with abetting by instigating the male Lee to conceal S$6.7 million in cash and 11kg of gold worth S$600,000, which she asked him to remove from a safe in Riverdale Crescent in November. 

She knew that the property represented "another's benefits from criminal conduct", documents stated, "namely causing a computer to perform a function for the purpose of securing access to a programme" intended for cheating. 

Lee Chi Wai was charged with dishonestly receiving stolen property after he allegedly received S$49,950 in his bank account, while having reason to believe it was stolen property.

He also faced a charge of acquiring 5kg worth of gold valued at about S$280,000, despite having “reasonable grounds to believe that the said property in whole indirectly represents another person’s benefits from criminal conduct”.

Fifty-nine-year-old Tan Yoon Nooi was charged with having S$49,950 in her bank account, which represented another person’s benefits from criminal conduct.

A fifth person, 41-year-old Ng Cheng Kwee, faced two charges. He allegedly engaged in a conspiracy with others to pass a forged document off as genuine, as well as engaging in a conspiracy with the female Lee to conceal S$6.7 million and 11kg of gold worth $600,000 in Singapore and China. 

“Preliminary police investigation reveals that the criminal syndicate behind these fraudulent claims operated an organised network that utilised nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit the fraudulent claims.”

SSG said it detected anomalies in claims for training grants at the end of October 2017 and immediately suspended all payments of grants to the nine business entities and reported the case to the police.

It added that it has taken immediate actions to tighten processes, which include implementing fraud analytics, while conducting a comprehensive review of the system.

“SSG takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation that abuses its funding schemes, and will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene its funding rules and guidelines,” the release added.

Police investigations are ongoing. 

Source: CNA/mn/ng

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