Town council ex-GM graft trial: How businessman masked $20,000 sent to accused's mistress in China

SINGAPORE – A businessman was worried when his business partner asked him to write a cheque for $20,000 that would be remitted to China for the mistress of a former town council general manager.

But Mr Tay Eng Chuan said Chia Sin Lan, 63, told him there was no risk as the money would go through a Mr David Gan in China, Chia’s business associate, who would help “settle” the matter.

He also said Chia, who is on trial for bribery, had the idea of recording the remittance made in June 2015 in a handwritten ledger as for a “friend”.

“This is in the event that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau or government agencies came to investigate. They will not be able to find this out easily as it will not be an obvious record,” Mr Tay told the State Courts on Monday (Nov 12), the seventh day of the corruption trial.

Chia faces 54 charges of allegedly giving more than $107,000 in bribes to former Ang Mo Kio Town Council general manager Wong Chee Meng, 58, for almost two years up to 2016.

This was in exchange for advancing the business interests of Chia’s companies – 19-ANC Enterprise and 19-NS2 Enterprise – which did work for town councils.

Wong, who is also on trial, similarly faces 54 charges, while 19-ANC and 19-NS2 each have one charge brought against them.

Mr Tay is a former director and shareholder of 19-NS2.

He also told the court on Monday that Chia had asked him to apply for a mobile phone line so that he could communicate with his own mistress and girlfriend.

Chia did not want the phone bill going to his home, he added.

Mr Tay told the court he also did not want the phone bill sent to his home and having to face “unnecessary questions” from his family, so he asked an employee, Mr Ng Fook Meng, to apply for the line.

Chia then passed the phone to Wong, who used it to make calls to China, allegedly to his mistress Ms Xu Hongmei. The phone bill exceeded $2,500 in about a year, according to court documents.

Every month, Mr Tay would claim the charges from Chia, by deducting it from 19-NS2’s cash account.

Yet another accusation made against Chia was that he found a job for Wong’s daughter-in-law, Ms Le Thi Hien, at a company called 4-Ever Engineering. Ms Le’s wages, however, were paid by 19-NS2, Mr Tay said.

Every month, he would receive a photo of Ms Le’s salary payment from 4-Ever Engineering via WhatsApp and he would repay the firm from 19-NS2’s cash account.

Based on court documents, the total salary paid to Ms Le amounted to more than $8,200, over a period of about six months in 2016.

The trial resumes on Tuesday (Nov 13).

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