Jail for ex-NUS professor who forged claims to dupe school into disbursing $88k to him , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Jail for ex-NUS professor who forged claims to dupe school into disbursing $88k to him

Across more than six years, a National University of Singapore (NUS) professor submitted false claims for expenses and duped the university into reimbursing him over $88,000.

On April 22, Tan Kok Kiong, 56, was sentenced to 24 weeks’ jail after pleading guilty to one cheating charge and 11 forgery charges.

At the time of his offences, which were committed between 2012 and 2019, Tan was employed at NUS’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as an associate professor and subsequently a professor after a promotion.

His job scope included teaching and conducting research in control, intelligent systems and robotics.

NUS had previously said in a statement that Tan was no longer employed by the university.

On April 22, Deputy Public Prosecutor David Menon said that Tan submitted expense reports containing inflated claims to NUS and claims for expenses which he did not incur for work.

To avoid detection and create legitimacy for these false claims, Tan made handwritten changes or used Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat to alter receipts and invoices.

Between November 2012 and April 2019, Tan submitted 37 false expense reports and duped NUS into reimbursing him $88,399.

In relation to the cheating charge, DPP Menon said Tan bought slim panel boards for a personal project testing an elderly care monitoring system.

He then submitted an expense report of $2,400 where he falsely claimed that this expenditure was related to an NUS project.

The prosecution said that between January and October 2017, Tan was suffering from depression, which had a contributory link to the commission of the offences during this period.

DPP Menon added: “During this time, the accused ruminated irrationally about wanting to retaliate against his family for what (he) perceived to be a lack of appreciation of him. He irrationally believed that they would appreciate him more if he got into trouble for these offences.”

According to an Institute of Mental Health report, Tan’s depression impaired his ability to fully appreciate the nature of his acts as he “believed that an act of retaliation would make him feel vindicated”.

Seeking a jail term of 24 to 26 weeks, DPP Menon noted that Tan was a recalcitrant and persistent offender and committed these offences over a prolonged period.

The DPP also said that a public institution was defrauded. “NUS is a public body. A deterrent sentence is warranted when a public body or government department is deceived into delivering public monies,” he added.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Preshin Manmindar sought leniency for his client, whom he said had contributed a “phenomenal amount” to NUS. The lawyer also highlighted that his client had committed the offences due to his psychiatric condition.

Tan has made full restitution to NUS.

Those who commit forgery can be jailed for up to four years, fined, or both. The punishment for cheating is a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.