SINGAPORE — A director of Euro Bremse, an auto parts and supply company, was sentenced to eight months and four weeks’ jail on Tuesday (Sept 26) for his role in offering an SMRT employee money in exchange for confidential information that will help in securing business with the transport operator.
Yong Ming Jun, 41, who is also the chief executive officer and a shareholder of the company, pleaded guilty in July to two charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act for corruptly giving gratifications.
Another three similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
SMRT employee Soh Choon Heng and Wong King Mooi, director of CEE Technologies that deals in hardware and motorised parts, were both sentenced to 21 months’ jail and four months’ jail respectively for their roles in the offence.
Wong was also given a S$4,000 fine.
The court heard that Yong got to know Soh through the course of his work because SMRT was one of the biggest customers for Euro Bremse, which supplied parts to SMRT for the maintenance of its buses.
As SMRT’s assistant buyer, Soh was responsible for supporting the operator’s procurement and sourcing activities by initiating a “sourcing event” where relevant vendors would be invited to submit their quotations.
One of the vendors that Soh would liaise with during a request for quotation was Yong’s company, Euro Bremse.
The quotations submitted would be evaluated based on various criteria, including the price quoted.
To protect the integrity of SMRT’s procurement process, Soh was not allowed to share confidential information such as the quotations submitted by competitor vendors.
‘HELPING’ EACH OTHER
Sometime in early 2016, Soh informed Yong that Euro Bremse was not awarded SMRT procurement contracts because the prices that Euro Bremse had quoted were not competitive.
Soh then offered to “help” Yong’s company secure contracts with SMRT on the account that Yong would “help” him back.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Louis Ngia said that they both understood this to mean that Yong should provide Soh with monetary payments for the mutual benefits and Yong agreed.
Between 2016 and 2020, about once to twice a month, Soh gave Yong confidential information on Euro Bremse’s competitors’ quotations or ongoing requests for quotations that Euro Bremse was bidding at the time.
Soh not only knew that it was against SMRT’s regulations to do this, but he also knew that Yong could use the confidential information to guide its bids, giving him an unfair advantage, DPP Ngia added.
The confidential data would normally be kept in SMRT’s system, but Soh would wrongfully ask vendors to submit their price lists through the system’s message board or a “Technical Submission” section where he can view the submitted prices himself.
Soh would then tell Yong the information either through phone calls or by emails with attachments.
At the time of the offence, Soh sent Yong at least 12 such emails in 2017 and one in 2019.
During investigations, Yong admitted that once he had assessed the information, he would delete Soh’s emails immediately.
Yong then used the confidential information to adjust his company’s quotations submitted to SMRT for contracts with its subsidiary, SMRT Automotive, to supply it with automotive parts.
In exchange for the confidential information, Yong gave Soh a sum of money based on the amount of the purchase orders received from SMRT.
On 10 occasions between January and December 2018, Yong gave Soh bribes amounting to S$5,500. And on six occasions between January and December 2019, he gave Soh S$6,000.
Yong would draw cash from his personal bank account and meet Soh below his housing block to hand the cash in an envelope to him.
From 2016 to 2020, Yong gave Soh a total of S$24,450 on 37 occasions.
Court documents did not state how many contracts Yong’s company won from SMRT as a result of the bribes as well as the value of these contracts.
‘NOT A MOMENT OF FOLLY’
Seeking between 12 and 14 months’ jail for Yong, DPP Ngia said that there was significant planning and premeditation on Yong’s part, which made this not a case of a “one-off moment of folly”.
DPP Ngia added that SMRT is a key public service provider in Singapore, so a deterrent sentence is warranted and some people might question the quality and safety of parts bought under compromised processes.
In delivering his sentence of eight months and four weeks’ jail for Yong, District Judge Prem Raj said that this case pointed to Yong being of “higher criminality” than Wong, since he had bribed Soh on more occasions compared to Wong, who did so on at least eight occasions between 2017 and 2019.However, the judge also said he was mindful that Yong’s company did not succeed in every tender for which it put in a bid.
Although the judge noted that Soh also entered into agreement with two other companies including Wong’s, it cannot be disputed that Yong still did give bribes to Soh on 37 distinct occasions over five years for the purpose of advancing his business.
For committing an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act by corruptly giving gratifications, Yong could have been fined S$100,000 or jailed up to five years, or both.