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Dentist duped CPF Board into disbursing $11,250 to clinic

A dentist unlawfully authorised the submissions of nine false Medisave claims involving three patients, causing the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board to be duped into disbursing $11,250 to a clinicwhere he was working at the time.

Andy Joshua Warren committed the offences in 2015 when he was working as a trainee dentist at Phoenix Dental Surgery which had two clinics - one in Ang Mo Kio and another in Marine Parade.

He was fined $45,000 on Tuesday (April 19) after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of cheating.

Fifteen other charges, including those linked to the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), were considered during sentencing.

Each clinic operated under its own company and both firms were struck off in 2018.

Warren, now 36, who used to be known as Ng Yuming, is still a dentist and an online search on healthcare professionals in Singapore revealed that he now practises at the AJ Warren Dental Clinic in Pasir Panjang.

Chas, started by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 2000, allows all citizens, including those from the Pioneer and Merdeka generations, to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at participating general practitioner clinics and dental clinics.

In October 2019, Warren and his then-colleague Teo Eu Gene, who was also a dentist at Phoenix Dental Surgery, became the first two people to be charged with cheating the Government through Chas.

Defence lawyer Riko Isaac from Tembusu Law, who represented Warren, told the court on Tuesday that Teo was also a director of the clinic.

Mr Isaac said that his client was employed at Phoenix Dental Surgery under Teo's supervision, adding: "Our client, having no prior experience with Medisave processes, was given instructions by (Teo) to comply with Phoenix Dental administrative processes, including (those) relating to Medisave claims."

Teo, then 36, was sentenced to 46 weeks' jail in 2020 after he pleaded guilty to 25 counts of cheating by submitting false Chas claims for dental procedures in 2014 and 2015.

He was also the first person to be jailed for cheating the Government through Chas.

Teo was later struck off the official dental register, which means he will not be allowed to practise as a dentist in Singapore for at least three years.

As for Warren, the court heard on Tuesday that he was a trainee dentist at Phoenix Dental Surgery between June and September 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Thaker said that within that time, he authorised the submissions of nine false Medisave claims of $1,250 each involving day surgeries of three patients. For one of the patients, he authorised the submission of five claims for day surgeries purportedly performed between May and June 2015.

However, he performed surgery on the patient on only three days and did not perform any on two.

For another patient, he authorised the submission of six claims but performed surgery on only one day. He did not perform surgery on this second patient on the remaining five days.

Warren performed surgeries on the third patient over three days even though he authorised five Medisave claims for them, the court heard. He did not perform surgery on this patient for the two remaining days.

The CPF Board was then deceived into believing that day surgeries had been carried out on the dates stated in the nine false Medisave claims.

As a result, the board was dishonestly induced to disburse a total of $11,250 to Phoenix Dental Surgery.

MOH later conducted an audit on Warren's Medisave claims and found multiple false ones. Warren and Teo were then charged in court in October 2019.

On Tuesday, the DPP urged to court to sentence Warren to a fine of $45,000, stressing that he was involved a serious case of fraud against a vital public institution.

Mr Isaac, however, pleaded for a fine of $27,000 and said that his client was a first-time offender.

The lawyer added: "At no point was there a claim for a surgery that was not, in fact, completed.

"However, our client's mistake was that he adhered to (Teo's) instructions and indicated surgeries were performed on certain dates when...they were performed on other dates."

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined.

COURT & CRIMEdentistCPFcheating