Ex-manager jailed for duping firm into paying accomplices $1m

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A principal facilities manager of SMM, the facilities management arm of infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong Group, duped SMM into paying more than $1 million to his accomplices in a ruse involving secret profits.

Former manager Ong Kah Heng made up to $60,000 from the scheme.

To commit the offences, between 2005 and 2012, the Singaporean worked with the directors of two firms that were SMM's approved subcontractors.

They were Yap Kok Leong, 55, from construction company Daycon, and Leong Swee Sum from A-One Contracting Services, which deals with interior decoration. As a result of the ruse, SMM paid the two firms for jobs they did not perform.

Ong, 60, was sentenced yesterday to four months' jail after pleading guilty to an amalgamated cheating charge.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Vincent Ong said that as part of its business, SMM tendered for maintenance contracts with its clients. It also acted as a managing agent on the respective sites under the contracts.

One of the sites was Paya Lebar Airbase, and Ong was posted there in 2005. As part of his job scope, he was tasked to oversee the site's maintenance.

The DPP said that to purportedly cope with delays at the work site involving ad hoc minor repair works, Ong asked the workers performing jobs on-site to help out with the outstanding tasks. After that, he paid them fixed amounts in cash upfront.

To get reimbursement for the expenses and earn profits, Ong proposed that Yap submit invoices through Daycon to SMM.

He told Yap that the works would be carried out by workers he had earlier engaged and that this would be done without SMM's knowledge.

Yap agreed and asked for formal invoices to be submitted to Daycon so that the transaction could be processed.

Ong asked Yap to have the invoices submitted to SMM under his father's name: Ong Teow Eng.

The court heard that the offences linked to Daycon involved 110 invoices for a total value of more than $1,072,000.

Yap's case is still pending.

Ong cheated SMM with a similar ruse by roping in Leong in 2009. The offence linked to A-One involved one invoice for more than $17,000. The DPP said Ong gave Leong $2,000.

Court documents did not state how the offences came to light, but SMM later started civil action against Ong for breach of duties owed to it.

He agreed to pay SMM more than $20,000 to settle the case.