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The Straits Times
Jun 5, 2023
A director of a firm dealing in fire protection systems gave a bribe of $1,825 to a technical supervisor at Sats – a ground-handling service provider at Changi Airport – as a reward for helping his company’s business.
Ng Kian Tiong, who was a director at Agrofire Electrical at the time, worked with Choo Chin Chuan, then a manager at electrical work provider AT Services, to commit the offence.
Ng had handed Choo $3,650 before the latter passed $1,825 to Lim Koon Chuan, who worked for Sats from 1982 to 2017. Choo then kept the remaining amount.
On Monday, Ng, 51, was fined $6,000 after he pleaded guilty to a graft charge.
Choo, 67, was fined $56,000 in February after he pleaded guilty to two corruption charges involving $7,000, while Lim, who was then 59, was sentenced to 15 months’ jail in August 2020.
Choo got to know Ng some time between 2010 and 2011 when AT Services and Agrofire worked on a project together.
The prosecution said that Sats periodically awards a custodian contract for maintenance, repair and minor works relating to mechanical as well as electrical services at places such as its airfreight terminals.
Sats also engaged other contractors for ad-hoc jobs involving the general repair and maintenance of the terminals.
Lim was responsible for approaching such contractors and ensuring their work was carried out properly.
He could also invite contractors to provide quotations for jobs required by Sats.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said: “After AT Services performed its first job at Sats via another main contractor, Lim observed that AT Services was able to perform the job well and asked Choo if AT Services was interested in taking up more jobs with Sats in the future.
“Choo told Lim that he was interested. Lim then told Choo that if there were any jobs in the future, Lim would invite Choo to quote for the job.”
A few months later, Choo told Lim that he was interested in quoting for jobs. Lim then told Choo that his “boss is asking”.
Choo understood this to mean that Lim was asking him for money as an inducement to invite AT Services for jobs. He later handed Lim $7,000.
In November 2016, Choo found out that there was a failure with Sats’ fire protection systems at airfreight terminals 5 and 6.
Choo then asked Ng if his company was able to rectify the problem. Choo also arranged for Ng to meet him and Lim in airfreight terminals 5 and 6.
The trio met up and after that, Choo told Ng that Sats would be engaging Agrofire’s services.
Choo also told Ng that Ng needed to “cover lao ban” (boss in Mandarin).
Ng understood “lao ban” to refer to Lim and that “cover” meant that he needed to pay commissions to Lim for introducing Agrofire for jobs awarded by Sats.
The DPP said: “(Ng) knew that the market for fire protection specialists like his company Agrofire was competitive and it would be extremely difficult for him to secure jobs at Sats without Agrofire being introduced for jobs.”
Ng agreed to pay “commissions” to Lim. He also agreed with Choo’s request for a cut of the commissions. This was because Choo was the one who had first introduced Ng to Lim for job opportunities with Sats.
Ng engaged in a conspiracy with Choo between November 2016 and February 2017 to give gratification to Lim through commission payments. In total, Ng handed $3,650 to Choo who gave Lim half the amount and kept the other half.
Between November 2016 and December 2017, Sats awarded six jobs to Agrofire through Choo’s recommendation of the firm to Lim.