Singapore—The former general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council (AMKTC) Wong Chee Meng, along with his co-conspirator, Omar Chia Sin Lan, have both pleaded guilty to charges of corruption involving the running of the town council on Monday, March 25.
Yahoo reported that Mr Wong, age 58, pleaded guilty to having received S$ 80,000 worth of bribes from Mr. Omar, age 63. These bribes came in the form of money remitted overseas to Mr Wong’s mistress in China, funds for entertainment, and a sizeable discount when Mr Wong purchased a car from Mr. Chia.
Mr Chia pleaded guilty to three counts of having given bribes in order for favour to be given to two of his companies, which had been hired to do work for Ang Mo Kio Town Council by Mr Wong.
Mr Wong was the recipient of kickbacks for over a period of two years, from December 2014 to September 2016. Mr Chia gave these to him since he was the major shareholder as well as the director of the two companies, 19-ANC Enterprise, and 19-NS2 Enterprise.
These two firms received contracts and tenders for work to the tune of millions of dollars from AMKTC.
Originally, the two men had been facing 55 counts of grafts individually, but these charges had been amalgamated. The total amount of bribery money Mr Wong received was S$86,141.
Although both men had intended to go to trial, Mr Wong decided to plead guilty to the charges against him on March 5, and a few days later, so did Mr Chia.
According to Yahoo Singapore, the former town councillor’s lawyer, Melanie Ho, told District Judge John N that Mr Wong has decided to plead guilty to the charges for “personal and other reasons.”
Ms Ho did not indicate what these reasons were.
Mr Wong’s trial began in September 2018. Back then, Alan Loh, the Deputy Public Prosecutor in the case, said, “The lion’s share of the gratification, some S$52,893.07, was in the form of entertainment expenses incurred by Victor Wong and Omar Chia at various KTV lounges and massage parlours, which the two frequented regularly at night.”
When he bought a Toyota Altis that had been the possession of Chia’s companies, Mr Wong also reportedly was given a sizable discount of S$13,500.
Moreover, Mr Chia supposedly sent remittances of S$30,000 to a woman in China reported to be the mistress of Mr Wong. The business owner was also said to have paid for a line for a mobile phone so that both Mr Wong and his mistress could call China for free. Finally, Mr Chia also hired the daughter-in-law of Mr Wong as a subcontractor for one of Chia’s firms.
The Deputy Prosecutor also had this to say: “As the general manager of AMKTC, Victor Wong had the power and ability to influence the award of AMKTC projects. Victor Wong was expected to act with absolute probity, particularly because his job involved the administration of public funds.”
“Instead of exercising his role impartially without favour, Victor Wong fell far short of the high standards of integrity demanded of his office and allowed himself to be cultivated by Omar Chia and had become beholden to him.”
Anti-graft investigators began to examine Mr Wong’s suspicious activities as far back as December 2016.
Mr Wong worked under CPG Facilities Management, which is the managing agent of AMKTC. The former town councillor was requested to go on leave after someone filed a complaint about him in September 2016. Two months later he was stripped of his roles in the town council.
For every graft charge that Messrs Wong and Chia face, they could be fined as much as S$100,000, as well as receive a seven-year jail sentence.
AMKTC is responsible for the oversight of residential estates in Ang Mo Kio GRC group representation constituency. While it’s chairman is Ang Hin Kee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself is also a town councillor of this particular group representation constituency, along with Gan Thiam Poh, Intan Azura Mokhtar, Koh Poh Koon, Lam Pin Min and Darryl David.