Jail for ex-company directors over $25k bribe to then Wildlife Reserves S’pore manager
Two former directors of a company were each sentenced to seven months’ jail on Thursday for working together to give a $25,000 bribe to a then senior project manager at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).
Neo Chye Koon and Wong Chee Thiam, both 54, each pleaded guilty on Oct 13 to a graft charge involving Goh Meng Kwee, 51.
Neo and Wong used to be directors at stainless steel fabrication firm Magnum Precision Industries.
At the time of the offences, Goh was from the exhibit design department of WRS, now known as Mandai Wildlife Group. He is no longer with the firm, and his case is pending.
In earlier proceedings, the prosecution said Neo and Wong had agreed to hand the monies to Goh so their company could secure projects with WRS, which managed attractions including the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari.
Deputy public prosecutors Eric Hu and Yeow Xuan told the court that as a result of the favour shown by Goh, Magnum derived substantial business advantage by securing at least three projects worth nearly $446,500 in total.
Neo got to know Goh at a social gathering in 2016.
About one to two months later, Goh contacted Neo and told him there were jobs for offer at the zoo. All three men later had a meeting and Goh offered to invite Magnum to tender for these jobs.
The prosecutors said Goh also offered to guide the pair on the tender process if they were willing to pay him $50,000 for items such as his “consultation services”.
Neo and Wong eventually agreed to pay him the amount in two payments of $25,000.
According to the prosecution, the two men also agreed to pay Goh in cash to cover their tracks and agreed to mask the payments as either “director fees” or “director bonus” in their internal ledgers.
Court documents stated that on Dec 2, 2016, Neo and Wong authorised a $30,000 withdrawal from their company’s bank account and Wong landed $25,000 in cash to Goh.
The prosecutors said Magnum received information from Goh and adjusted its quotation prices to fit WRS’ budget before submitting its bids.
This allowed the company to outbid its competitors and be considered by WRS’ tender evaluation committee, which typically assessed bids with the most competitive prices only.
The prosecution said Goh then made recommendations for WRS to invite Magnum to provide quotations, and subsequently pushed for WRS to engage the company for multiple projects.
Between April and December 2017, WRS awarded three projects to Magnum, including various construction work at the zoo’s cape buffalo exhibit worth nearly $287,800.
Court documents did not disclose how the offences came to light, but all three men were charged in court in 2022.
On Thursday, Neo and Wong were each offered a bail of $50,000. They were ordered to surrender themselves at the State Courts on Oct 27 to begin serving their sentences.