Co-founder of property agency charged over his role in building illegal floor, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Co-founder of property agency charged over his role in building illegal floor

The co-owner of a property agency was charged in court on Tuesday (April 5) over his role in building an illegal floor at The Alexcier building in Alexandra Road.

Yeo Choon Guan, also known as Stanley Yeo, faces a charge from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for abetting by intentionally aiding Communication Design International (Singapore) (CDI) to build a mezzanine floor in unit 08-01 at The Alexcier.

This was allegedly done without the planning permission of the competent authority sometime in or about 2008 to 2009. If convicted of this offence under the Planning Act, he could be fined up to $200,000.

He did this in his capacity as a director of SLP International Property Consultants, which engaged CDI.

Yeo, who faced a separate charge from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, did not enter a plea on Tuesday.

He will face another charge from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Friday (April 8).

Yeo and his wife Kain Sim owned the unit at The Alexcier under ZACD Investments - a real estate investment firm they co-founded under the ZACD Group.

The couple are controlling shareholders of ZACD Group, which has been listed on the GEM (Growth Enterprise Market), Hong Kong's exchange for smaller companies, since 2018.

They also co-founded SLP International in 2003 to engage in the real estate agency business. Both of them were listed as directors of the firm. But an Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority searched on Tuesday showed Yeo is no longer a director of the firm.

The Straits Times first reported about the illegal floor - the first known case of its kind - on March 3, 2019.

The authorities had acted on a tip-off and conducted an inspection of the multi-use light industrial building in February 2019 and found a ninth floor.

The lift stops on the eighth floor of the building, which was built by local developer Chiu Teng Group in 2005 and also has a basement.

The hidden floor spanning 5,200 sq ft was constructed without approval from the authorities and payment of development charge as required under the Planning Act.

It was only accessible by stairs from the eighth-floor office, which was then occupied by ZACD Posh - the property and facilities management arm of ZACD Group.

Two flights of stairs from the ZACD Posh office led to the clandestine floor which had various living and work spaces with workstations, beds, a kitchen and a meeting room.

Entry to these stairs was hidden behind a password-protected door disguised as a display shelf in the office pantry.

The illegal floor was demolished in 2019. The eighth-floor unit was put up for sale in late 2019 but the listing was subsequently removed, and the unit is still owned by ZACD Investments.

Yeo, who was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2015 and had chaired the Tampines North Citizens' Consultative Committee, had taken leave from his grassroots position.

A People's Association spokesman told ST last month that Yeo has been on leave of absence since March 12, 2019.

The Building Control Act states that anyone convicted of carrying out unauthorised building work is liable to a fine of up to $200,000 and/or a jail term of up to two years.

When asked if Yeo is the only party who will be prosecuted for the illegal floor, BCA and URA spokesmen declined to comment as the matter is before the courts.