Ex-SLA Deputy Director Faces Another 70 Charges

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: Former deputy director at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Koh Seah Wee, who stands accused of cheating the government of more than S$12 million, was slapped with another 70 charges on Thursday.

Seven of the charges were in relation to his stint at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and 63 involved offences during his tenure at the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2004.

While at the Supreme Court, Koh was involved in the procurement process for IT equipment, software, consumables and services.

It is alleged that in recommending the award of contracts to business entities, Koh had concealed from the Supreme Court the fact that he was involved in the management of such business entities and had a share in their profits.

The business entities named in Thursday's charges are Chartered Systems and Services Pte Ltd, Teamware and Professional Business Solutions. Due to his actions, the Supreme Court was induced to award contracts to these business entities.

Koh, who has been in remand since 25 June, now faces a total of 372 charges.

In September 2010, the Supreme Court said it received a request from the Commercial Affairs Department, for assistance into the investigations into the affairs of Koh Seah Wee. The CAD wanted to find out if Koh had committed any wrong doing during his deployment to the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2004.

The Supreme Court said it has since been helping the CAD with its probe.

The Deputy Public Prosecutor also informed the court that the Attorney-General's Chambers will be writing to the Supreme Court for the case to be heard before a Supreme Court judge.

The request is not unprecedented. A similar application was made against Chia Teck Leng, the former finance manager of Asia Pacific Breweries, who was accused of cheating several banks in 2004.

Chia had cheated the banks of nearly S$115 million by creating fictitious and forged documents in the name of the company.

Koh's accomplice, Lim Chai Meng, will also have his case transferred to the Supreme Court, following a similar application by the Deputy Public Prosecutor.

The Attorney General's Chambers said in view of the circumstances of the alleged offences committed by Koh and Lim, as well as the total amount involved, it was considered it would be more appropriate for the matter to be heard by the High Court.

No fresh charges were preferred against Lim on Thursday, who already faces 309 charges.

The Supreme Court has meanwhile set up an independent panel to review its procurement processes and related internal controls.

The panel, which was set up in October, is chaired by High Court Judge, Justice Quentin Loh. Senior officers from two other government bodies are also represented on the panel.

The panel is expected to make recommendations for improvements to such processes and controls.

Similar review panels have also been set up at the Singapore Land Authority and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, the other two agencies where Koh had allegedly committed various offences.

A pre-trial conference for both Koh and Lim will be held in the Subordinates Courts on February 17, 2011 on some administrative matters concerning the case.

– CNA/ir/ac

Channel News Asia

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