Director of spa tried to scam $36,000 from Jobs Support Scheme
The director of a spa has been sentenced to seven weeks' jail for conspiring to cheat the authorities into disbursing about $36,000 in government grants.
Deidrea Tan Zhong Lin, 31, had submitted fake documents for payouts under the Jobs Support Scheme for 28 people she claimed were hired by Kings Spa.
Deputy public prosecutor Grace Teo said they did not work for the company and did not receive salaries from it.
Tan pleaded guilty on Thursday (July 14) and will start her sentence on July 28.
The Jobs Support Scheme was introduced because of economic uncertainties amid the pandemic.
Under the scheme, the government subsidised a portion of the wages of local workers to help them stay employed.
Employers did not need to apply for the scheme, as the cash grant was automatically computed based on mandatory Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution data.
Tan's husband - Gay Kah Leong, 31 - is also facing charges.
The DPP said that in May 2020, Gay, who was the spa's operations manager, told his wife that they would be receiving about $50,300 in payouts under the scheme.
This was despite the fact that the purported 28 employees did not work for Kings Spa in February, March and April of that year.
In July, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) informed Kings Spa that the company was being reviewed.
This meant that they had to substantiate their eligibility for the grants. Iras conducted such reviews to deter abuse of the scheme, said the DPP.
As the couple never actually hired the 28 people at the spa, they knew that they would not be eligible for the payout.
They decided to fake employment documents and even instructed their staff on what to say if they were contacted by the authorities.
As part of the review, Tan had to submit supporting documents.
She gave her husband her SingPass account details, which he then used to provide a false declaration to Iras.
The DPP said that Gay, writing as Tan, provided bogus documents in August 2020 as proof that the 28 people were hired by Kings Spa and that it had paid them monthly wages.
He also claimed the company did not make any CPF contributions for non-existent employees.
The DPP said Gay intended to dishonestly induce Iras to disburse to Kings Spa the Jobs Support Scheme payout.
"The payout for the 28 non-genuine employees alone would have amounted to $36,615," she added.
But no money was disbursed as they were found out, and Iras reported the matter to the police in September 2020.
Seeking at least two months' jail, the DPP said deliberate steps were taken to avoid detection to get hold of public funds.
Defence lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan, who asked for four weeks' jail for Tan, said that Tan was not the main driving force behind the offence, and had not planned to gain financially from the payouts.
In sentencing, District Judge Melissa Tan said that while the cheating was discovered, it would have involved a substantial amount of money.
She added that it frustrated the intentions of the scheme to support employers amid the pandemic.
The maximum punishment for cheating is three years' jail and a fine.