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Couple found guilty of cheating MHA, won more than S$165,000 in contracts by submitting fake quotations

SINGAPORE: For almost three years, a married couple cheated the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), winning more than S$165,000 in contracts by submitting fictitious quotations to ensure that their bid would always be the lowest. 

Cheow Boon Peng and his wife Kuan Pooi Yee pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Sep 29) to a combined 13 charges of conspiring to cheat the ministry. 

Cheow, 43, and Kuan, 37, were respectively general manager and director at Buildforms Constructions. In December 2011, the company became the sole sub-contractor for building works at MHA’s West Zone properties. 

Departments in the zone included the Singapore Police Force, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the Singapore Civil Defence Force. 

As part of its obligations, Buildforms was required to source for and submit at least three quotations by three different, independent companies for works. 

This was to ensure transparency and open competition in the procurement process, the prosecution noted. 

Cheow and Kuan initially attempted to obtain genuine quotations from other sub-contractors, but the sub-contractors did not always respond.

Then in early January 2012, Cheow came up with the idea of preparing fictitious quotations from other companies, to be submitted with Buildforms’ own quotations. 

“Cheow's plan was to ensure that Buildforms' quotation was always the lowest priced of the three submitted quotations for the relevant star rate work, by inputting higher prices in the fictitious quotations,” said the prosecution, adding that this was done to ensure Buildforms would be awarded the work by the relevant department. 

Cheow told Kuan of his plan and she agreed to it.

He taught his wife how to prepare fictitious quotations and she, in turn, taught Buildforms’ administrative staff how to do the same. 

The fictitious quotations were created under the letterheads of several companies - Gecko Design and Woodworks, E/S Cleaning and Maintenance Enterprise and Air Builder. 

The admin staff used soft copies of these companies’ letterheads to create the fake documents, and superimposed copies of the company stamps on the falsified quotations. 

They even custom made a fake company stamp for one of the firms.

In cases where an MHA department required supporting correspondence with the companies, fake email accounts were created and email exchanges were falsified to create the appearance that Buildforms had sourced for genuine quotations. 

This was all done without the knowledge and authorisation of the relevant companies. 

The couple will appear in court again on Oct 29 for mitigation and sentencing. 

Source: CNA/az(gs)


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