Jail for trio linked to ruses to get Covid-19 grants, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Jail for trio linked to ruses to get Covid-19 grants

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Two former spa employees, who falsely claimed that their jobs there had been affected after the Covid-19 pandemic struck, were each sentenced to two months and a week’s jail on Friday.

Joey Yeo, 29, and Danny Ho Wai Hong, 31, each received $500 from a government grant.

Ho worked at Kings Spa while Yeo worked for the firm when it was known as Spa 9.

The pair pleaded guilty in November to a charge each of cheating and furnishing false information to a public servant.

A third person, Loo Yi Ming, 31, who signed off on fraudulent documents to help the spa obtain another grant, was sentenced to a month’s jail on Friday. He pleaded guilty to a charge of falsification of accounts.

Deidrea Tan Zhong Lin, 31, who was the spa’s director at the time of the offences, was earlier sentenced to seven weeks’ jail over her role in the offences.

The case against her husband Gay Kah Leong, 31, then its operations manager, is pending.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En said in earlier proceedings that in 2018 or 2019, Yeo came to an agreement with the spa’s management that she would continue as a “phantom employee” after she indicated her wish to stop working.

This meant the spa would continue to make Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions to her.

A similar arrangement was made between Ho and Gay in August 2018.

Ho, who began working for the spa as a receptionist on July 1, 2018, stopped working there the following month.

But according to court documents, Gay told him that the spa would make CPF contributions to him as a “phantom employee” so that it could continue to hire foreign workers.

From June 2019 to August 2020, Yeo and Ho received monthly CPF contributions from the spa despite not working there, with Yeo receiving at least $7,326 and Ho getting no less than $5,809.

In order to maintain the facade that they were genuine employees, they also signed off on falsified payslips.

In her application for the Temporary Relief Fund, Yeo falsely declared that she lost her job due to Covid-19 and that her gross monthly income before Jan 23, 2020 was $1,000.

She later admitted that this amount was based on the CPF contributions she was receiving from the spa as a phantom employee. Meanwhile, Ho lied in his application that he lost at least 30 per cent of his income.

He claimed that his gross monthly income before Jan 23, 2020 was $1,500 – which included $1,300 in salary from Kings Spa – and that it had fallen to $800.

DPP Tay had said: “Danny admitted that he had to ‘anyhow put in’ this amount so that it would show that he had lost at least 30 per cent of his personal income.”

Meanwhile, in order to obtain a payout under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) which was aimed at providing wage support to employers and helping enterprises retain their local staff, Gay is said to have intentionally submitted fraudulent documents on Aug 10, 2020 to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) for a self-review.

To prevent and detect abuse of the scheme, Iras implemented a framework for the JSS in June 2020 that identified employers with a higher risk profile.

They were then asked to conduct a self-review by making a declaration and provide supporting documents to substantiate their eligibility.

Loo, who was working as an account manager at another firm, signed off on the falsified documents. Iras reviewed the application but did not disburse the payout to Kings Spa.

Also as part of the self-review, Iras officers contacted Ho and Yeo about their employment statuses. They lied and said they did not illegally receive CPF contributions and that they were currently employed by the spa.

An Iras officer alerted the police on Sept 28, 2020.

Yeo decided to start serving her sentence on Friday.

Loo and Ho were each offered bail of $5,000. Ho will start serving his sentence on Dec 5 while Loo will do so four days later.

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