Asia

Former forklift operator jailed over bribes from truck drivers totalling more than $10,000

SINGAPORE – A forklift operator accepted bribes from truck drivers so that they could jump the queue when collecting or returning containers, and he received from them more than $10,000 over nearly five years.

Chinese national Zhao Yucun, 43, whose work permit has since been cancelled, was jailed for four months on Friday (Feb 15) after he pleaded guilty to a corruption charge.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $10,863 and will have to spend an additional two weeks behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.

Zhao, who worked for Cogent Container Depot, which provides container storage services, was the second forklift operator from the firm to be dealt with in court this year for taking bribes.

Another Chinese national, Chen Ziliang, 47, was jailed for two months and ordered to pay a penalty of $4,870.50 on Jan 10 after admitting to a similar offence.

Chen had collected nearly $5,000 from the truck drivers.

On Friday, the court heard that those who did not bribe Zhao had to endure a longer waiting time.

He committed his offences between Sept 2, 2013, and March 12 last year, collecting up to $10 in bribes daily.

As a forklift truck operator, he received a monthly salary of $1,430 and worked six days a week from Monday to Saturday.

He was first deployed at Cogent’s container yard in Jalan Terusan, near Jurong Port Road, from September 2013 to November 2017. After that, he worked at the firm’s other container yard in Buroh Crescent near Pioneer Road.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Siok Chen said that when carrying out their duties, forklift operators are not allowed to receive monies from truck drivers.

However, Zhao collected their money despite knowing that he was not allowed to do so.

DPP Ang added: “The truck drivers would place coins at the mudguard of the forklift that the accused was operating on. Then, he would collect these coins during his break and keep them in his pocket.

“Truck drivers who gave monies to the accused would be allowed to jump the queue for the collection or return of containers whereas those who did not would have to wait longer as the accused would delay their collection or return of containers.”

On Oct 20, 2017, a truck driver complained to Chen about the long waiting time to get served.

Chen replied that the norm was to give him $1 or risk having to wait longer in the queue.

Court documents did not state if the driver alerted the authorities but the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau conducted a raid at the yard on March 12 last year.

Officers then caught Zhao and Chen.

Offenders convicted of corruption can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

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