SINGAPORE — Over the course of a decade, Too Kay Siong, 57, would hand more than S$760,000 in bribes to executives at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) to ensure that his construction company and several other firms would submit winning bids for tenders with WRS.
Besides being the intermediary between the various parties, Too also recruited other companies to take part in the price-fixing scheme, and received between S$20,000 and S$30,000 for the role he played.
For his actions, Too, who worked as a foreman in the construction company founded by his late father, was sentenced to 26 months’ jail after pleading guilty to 10 counts of conspiring to give corrupt gratification.
Another 104 similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The Singaporean is one of 12 people, including two WRS staff members, to be implicated in the bribery scheme.
One of the former WRS officers, Chin Fong Yi, 46, was sentenced to jail and ordered to pay a penalty in March last year for receiving the bribes. The case of former WRS director Barry Chong Peng Wee, 56, who allegedly received more than S$2.4 million in gratuities, is still pending.
The court heard that at the time of the offences, Too worked as a foreman at Shin Yong Construction, the construction company founded by his late father Toh Siang Bee. The company’s main customer at the time was WRS, the prosecution said.
Too’s work included looking over the company’s operations and he was also involved in tendering for construction jobs and helping to prepare job quotations.
Sometime before 2005, he and his father allegedly entered into an arrangement with Barry Chong, who was the director of facilities management at the Singapore Zoo at the time. The zoo is a subsidiary of WRS.
Under the arrangement, Chong, who is also known as Danial Chong, would ensure that WRS jobs would be awarded to Too’s company in exchange for a “commission”, which was handed to him in cash by Too.
The court also heard that Too’s older brother Toh Say Yong took over their father’s place in the company sometime in 2005 after the man died.
The prosecution said that Too’s brother also conspired with Barry to ensure that WRS-related jobs were awarded to Shin Yong Construction in exchange for a “monetary commission of roughly 10 per cent mark up in the bid price given to WRS”.
Chong would allegedly inform Toh through Too about the bid price the company should put.
Either Too or Toh would ask other contractors to put in slightly higher bids than their company’s quote so that WRS would award the job to Shin Yong Construction. The court heard that such contracts were typically awarded to the lowest bidder.
Through the corrupt arrangements, Too’s company was awarded jobs valued at about S$9.09 million in total.
When former WRS manager Chin began suspecting that a price-fixing arrangement was happening sometime in 2010 or 2011, Too paid more than S$50,000 in bribes to silence her. Chin has been jailed and fined for receiving bribes.
Court documents stated that in late 2013 or early 2014, Chong asked Too to find other contractors to take part in a similar corrupt arrangement, where these companies reward him monetarily in exchange for WRS jobs to be awarded to them. The bribes would be paid to Chong through Too.
Three other companies were awarded jobs totalling between S$1.7 million and S$2.70 million for each company, while a fifth firm received jobs worth S$14,300, the court heard.
Too received between S$20,000 and S$30,000 for facilitating their alleged corrupt arrangement with Chong, court documents showed.
The total amount of bribes that Too gave was more than S$760,000 in total, including those in relation to the charges that were taken into consideration.
The prosecution said: “It is estimated that WRS suffered loss of around S$1,400,000 as a result of the inflated invoices submitted under the corrupt arrangement between the accused and the co-accused persons.”
NOT JUST A ‘COURIER’
Seeking a total sentence of between 24 and 30 months, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kelvin Chong pointed to the scale and sophistication of the scheme and the harm caused.
Besides the losses suffered by WRS and the amount of bribes involved, the prosecution argued that third-party contractors were deprived of a fair opportunity to bid for the jobs.
In Too’s mitigation plea, defence counsel Tan Cheng Kiong sought a lighter sentence, adding that the long time it took for the case to conclude has worsened his client’s severe anxiety disorders.
Mr Tan argued that although the amount involved was significant, it was not Too who paid them, and that he was a “courier” who had no control over the amount of bribes being given.
While he did not deny that his client played a part in the scheme, he said that the role was “not that critical” given how the scheme continued even after he left his company.
Mr Tan did not mention when Too left the company.
In reply, DPP Chong said that the offences came to light only sometime in 2016 and the investigations took a long time due to the scale of the offences, adding that this timeline ought not to be taken as a mitigating factor for Too.
On Too’s role, the prosecution highlighted that Too played a part in recruiting people into the scheme and was present at the start when the corrupt practice was first established.
Delivering his brief sentencing remarks, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said that he took into consideration Too’s guilty plea and clean record before the offences.
However, he also took into account the huge loss suffered by WRS and the “syndicated nature” of the arrangement, which involved five companies.
For each count of conspiring to give corrupt gratification, Too could have been sentenced to a fine of up to S$100,000 or been jailed for up to five years, or both.