Home News Couple behind S$40 million SkillsFuture scam get a combined 31 years behind bars

Couple behind S$40 million SkillsFuture scam get a combined 31 years behind bars

Learning the hard way that when scams stop paying you, you start paying for your scams.

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Singapore — A man and woman who were among the masterminds in a syndicate that scammed SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) of nearly S$40 million received a combined jail sentence of over three decades.

The husband, Ng Cheng Kwee, was sentenced on Monday (Aug 16) to 17 years in jail, while his wife Lee Lai Leng received a 14-year sentence.

In Apr, the two pleaded guilty to several offences that include cheating, forgery and money laundering.

Ng, Lee, and their companions in the syndicate carried out the biggest case thus far of fraud against a public institution in Singapore.

The SSG scheme provides a subsidy for companies in Singapore that sent its workers on skills training courses with registered training providers. The subsidy covers over a portion of the training fees and could either be made out to the business where the worker was employed, or to the training provider. 

To carry out the scam, the syndicate headed by Ng and Lee set up nine businesses registered in the country. Between May and Oct 2017, these nine businesses submitted a total of 8,386 grant applications for fraudulent course fees and a corresponding 8,391 claims to SkillsFuture Singapore.

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In 2019, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ivan Chua said that all in all, the nine firms received around $39.9 million from SSG.

The nine firms were, in actuality, shell companies with no assets or business operations. 

Moreover, the syndicate paid three individuals to front as nominee directors of the shell companies, so that their names would not appear on the claims.

According to the police, “The syndicate’s scheme resulted in SSG disbursing approximately $39.9 million of training grants in total to the corporate bank accounts of eight entities.”

And when several of the grant applications and claims were flagged by SSG, the couple handed in forged or falsified documents to cover their tracks, which included employment contracts and attendance records of training courses, which had never been conducted, added the police.

The couple later used some of the proceeds from the scam to buy 11 kilos of gold.

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Ng and Lee’s wrongdoings caught up with them in late 2017, with Lee arrested by the police on Nov 2 and her husband on Dec 4 after he had returned from an overseas trip.

Six other men who had been part of the syndicate, which includes one of Lee’s brothers, were found guilty between 2018 and 2019 and are now serving jail sentences.

Three other individuals said to be part of the group are still in the middle of legal proceedings. /TISG

Read also: Malaysian man jailed for link in $39.9 million SkillsFuture scam

Malaysian man jailed for link in $39.9 million SkillsFuture scam

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