Security firm director jailed for bribing Takashimaya manager over 3 years to cover up guard shortage
SINGAPORE: Over more than three years, the director of a firm providing security guards to the Takashimaya store at Ngee Ann City gave S$121,000 in bribes to a senior manager to cover up a shortage in security guards.
The store suffered estimated losses of about S$479,700 in liquidated damages that it was supposed to receive if there was a shortfall in the number of security officers deployed.
The director of White Knights Security Services, 30-year-old permanent resident Mandhir Singh Karpal Singh, was sentenced to 10 months' jail on Monday (Aug 16).
He pleaded guilty to five counts of corruptly giving bribes to Takashimaya's senior divisional manager Chan Kuen Thong, with another 15 charges taken into consideration.
The court heard that Chan was in charge of Takashimaya's security department. He joined the company in 1991 and was reporting directly to the mall's deputy managing director and director at the time of the offences.
Singh joined his firm in 2013, starting out doing administration and rising through the ranks before being appointed director after the previous director stepped down in 2017.
Takashimaya tasked Chan to source for quotations from security agencies in 2016, after its previous provider said they could not provide enough manpower.
White Knights was one of three companies that responded to Chan, and Takashimaya awarded the contract to White Knights on Chan's recommendations.
In total, White Knights signed three contracts with Takashimaya, each promising to offer 18 security officers in the day shift and six in the night shift for a monthly rate of S$99,300.
Under the terms of the agreement, White Knights would have to pay Takashimaya liquidated damages if there was a shortfall in the number of security officers deployed.
Singh experienced shortfalls in the number of security officers from the get-go in January 2017. He lacked three to five officers a day due to a high frequency of leave and off days, as well as a high resignation rate.
In the second week of January 2017, Chan complained to Singh about the shortfall, which resulted in some security posts being left unmanned.
Singh said he would resolve the issue, but could not. Later that month, Chan called Singh to meet him at his office.
When Singh told him that he could not overcome the shortfall in security officers, Chan asked Singh to pay him S$4,000 per month so that Chan would not call for White Knights to pay liquidated damages to Takashimaya.
Despite knowing it was corrupt to do so, Singh agreed to the proposal as it would save his company sums of between S$12,300 and S$20,500 per month.
He was also afraid to lose the first "big" project he had.
Between February 2017 and May 2020, Singh gave Chan a total of S$121,000 in cash bribes over 20 occasions in return for Chan refraining from issuing claims for liquidated damages.
As a result, Takashimaya suffered an estimated loss of S$12,300 per month for 39 months, totalling S$479,700.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) received a tip-off in June 2019 that Singh was giving bribes to Chan.
No restitution has been made to Takashimaya apart from a partial disgorgement of S$15,000 by Chan to the CPIB.
The prosecutor called for at least 11 months' jail for Singh, saying that the contract should have been terminated a month after it began but instead lasted 39 months in a corrupt arrangement.
A TANGIBLE SHORTAGE: PROSECUTOR
"Takashimaya housed many shops selling high-end products," said the prosecutor. "The supply of security officers helps deter incidents from happening and helps ensure a swift response if incidents do occur.
"The fact that Chan realised security officers were missing from their posts meant that the shortage was a real, tangible and visible shortage."
However, he said Singh's culpability is low, as his offending was not particularly sophisticated, premeditated, founded on exceptionally perverse motives or involving threats.
Chan is set for a trial in October.