Motor vehicle repair workshop directors bribed Vicom staff to lodge ‘shortcut’ accident reports
To avoid hassle for their customers, two motor vehicle repair workshop directors bribed staff at vehicle inspection company Vicom to lodge “shortcut” accident reports.
These were reports made without physically seeing the vehicles. Instead, the Vicom staff member used photos provided by the workshops, and sometimes even edited them to make it look like they were taken at Vicom.
Edrian Lim Cheng Kwee, 41, the director of Miracle Workz, and Lim Ah Wah, 63, director of CYS Automobile Services, each pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of giving bribes.
The younger Lim had four other charges taken into consideration and was sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment.
The other director was fined $1,500.
Motorists involved in an accident are required to go to an approved reporting centre (ARC) or authorised workshop, along with their vehicles, to make a vehicle accident report.
This ensures that the damage is assessed by an independent body, and contains the claims cost for motor insurers. Vicom is one such ARC appointed by several motor insurers in Singapore.
Some time before April 2016, Susan Seah Soh Eng, who was then a service adviser at Vicom, agreed with a Miracle Workz employee to lodge accident reports for its customers without them or their vehicles being present at Vicom.
Edrian Lim approved of this arrangement as Miracle Workz was not an ARC. It was inconvenient for his customers to take their vehicles to Vicom for accident reporting before taking it back to his company for repairs.
“In some cases, the customers might decide to not bring their vehicles back to Miracle (Workz), but to other motor vehicle repair workshops instead,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Kit Yu.
Each time, a Miracle Workz employee would provide Seah with details, including the customers’ particulars, information about the accident, and photos of the damaged vehicle.
If the photos showed the vehicle in a place other than Vicom, Seah would edit the photos to make it look like it was taken in Vicom, or ask the employee to retake the photos to avoid suspicion.
Seah asked Edrian Lim if she could be paid for helping them. He instructed his staff to pay her $30 for each report lodged, amounting to $4,400 over a period of almost three years between July 2016 and May 2019.
Similarly, Seah had asked for $40 per report for helping Lim Ah Wah’s customers file accident reports. She said that she had lodged at least 15 such reports in 2017 and 2018, prompting him to give her $600 as reward.
Seah’s case will be heard in August.
Ng Ah Hiang, 55, another former Vicom service adviser involved in the corrupt scheme, was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and a $1,300 penalty on Thursday.
Ng had received $1,300 in bribes for helping two other car repair workshops, Long Sheng Motor Service and AMA Automotive, to lodge such reports.
Ng pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving bribes, with a similar offence taken into consideration in sentencing.
Although Vicom did not suffer any loss, the accused persons’ acts placed the company at risk of having its appointment as an ARC terminated by insurers, said DPP Leong.
The prosecutor said it compromised Vicom’s function as an independent damage assessment centre for motor insurance claims.
Motor insurers may then have to use more resources to ensure claims are accurate, resulting in increased costs.
Said the DPP: “Such increased costs might then be ‘passed down’ to motorists in the form of higher insurance premiums.”