Dentist jailed 46 weeks for making false Chas claims over two years

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A 36-year-old dentist yesterday became the first person jailed for cheating the Government through the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).

Teo Eu Gene pleaded guilty to 25 counts of cheating by submitting false Chas claims for dental procedures in 2014 and 2015.

His actions caused two polyclinic groups - SingHealth Polyclinics and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics - that process and reimburse Chas claims on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to wrongfully disburse more than $18,000.

Teo was sentenced to 46 weeks' jail by District Judge Luke Tan. Taken into consideration during sentencing were 35 charges related to submitting other false claims and falsifying medical records.

Chas, started by 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.

Court documents state that Teo started Phoenix Dental Surgery, a dental chain with one clinic in Ang Mo Kio and another in Marine Parade, in 2014. Both were participating clinics under Chas at that time, with about 60 per cent of Teo's patients paying for their treatments using Chas.

Both firms were struck off in 2018.

"Investigations revealed that Teo submitted Chas claims to the polyclinics for procedures he did not perform on his patients," Deputy Public Prosecutor V. Jesudevan said yesterday.

Teo inflated the number of procedures he had actually performed on his patients, and substantiated these claims by adding false dental procedures in his patients' medical case notes to avoid detection, the DPP told the court.

Court documents state the 25 false claims submitted by Teo resulted in the polyclinics making a payout totalling more than $30,000 to the dental chain.

Of these, more than $18,000 was for procedures Teo did not perform.

For each offence of cheating, Teo could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Teo's former colleague at Phoenix Dental, Andy Joshua Warren, is charged with similarly cheating the polyclinics by submitting false Chas claims and falsifying medical records. His case is still pending.