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AMKTC trial: Defence says $20,000 remittance was 'partially repaid'

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Witness in corruption trial of AMKTC ex-manager cross-examined

A remittance of $20,000 sent to China for the mistress of a town council's former general manager - alleged to be a bribe - was partially repaid, defence lawyer Melanie Ho said yesterday.

Ms Ho disclosed this in court while cross-examining prosecution witness Tay Eng Chuan in a bribery trial.

Mr Tay said earlier this week the remittance arranged by his business partner, Chia Sin Lan, 63, in June 2015 was "inappropriate" and a "form of bribery".

Ms Ho, who is representing Wong Chee Meng, 58, the former general manager of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC), said $10,000 was returned to Chia in April 2016.

She did not give further details.

Mr Tay said Chia had told him the money was for Ms Xu Hongmei's home renovations in China but did not know if any of it was repaid.

Both Chia and Wong are on trial for corruption, involving more than $107,000 in bribes that Chia allegedly gave to Wong over almost two years. Almost $53,000 was allegedly incurred at KTV lounges and massage parlours by the duo.

The bribes were for advancing the business interests of Chia's companies, 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise, said prosecutors.

Asked by Ms Ho yesterday, the 10th day of the corruption trial, if the remittance was still considered a bribe if Ms Xu had repaid the amount, Mr Tay said: "If she returns the partial or full sum... I think this would not be bribery but a loan."

Ms Ho also asked him about a mobile phone line that Chia had asked him to apply for, allegedly for Wong's free use.

She asked Mr Tay if he knew the line was used by both Chia and Wong to make business calls in China, and that Ms Xu also used the phone when in Singapore.

Mr Tay said he was unaware of these details as Chia only told him the phone was given to Wong to call Ms Xu.

Ms Ho also asked him about the hiring of Wong's daughter-in-law Stella Le Thi Hien at 4-Ever Engineering.

The court earlier heard that her salary was reimbursed by 19-NS2, which Mr Tay said was Chia's idea.

Ms Ho put to Mr Tay that Wong would not have known about it until July 2016 when an e-mail about a workplace dispute involving Ms Le was copied to him.

By then, she had worked at 4-Ever for about five months.

Mr Tay said the "twists and turns" in how Ms Le's job was arranged was questionable. He noted that Ms Le initially wanted to work at 19-ANC. But one of its executives did not think it was a good idea should anyone find out Wong's daughter-in-law was working there.

That led Chia to suggest that 19-NS pay her salary while she is employed by 4-Ever, Mr Tay said.

COURT & CRIME