Jail for siblings linked to graft case involving more than $2m

SINGAPORE – A pair of siblings who conspired to secure tenders for two companies in China in exchange for bribes amounting to about 11.3 million yuan (S$2.3 million) were sentenced to jail on Monday (Jan 11).

Teo Chu Ha, 72, also known as Henry Teo, was sentenced to four years and two months’ jail. His younger sister, Judy Teo Suya Bik, 68, was sentenced to three years and five months’ jail.

She was also ordered to pay more than $2 million – the amount she received – as a penalty. If she is unable to pay the amount, she will spend an additional 18 months behind bars .

In August last year, District Judge Ng Cheng Thiam found the two Singaporeans guilty of 50 counts of engaging in a conspiracy to commit graft.

Judge Ng also found them guilty of one count each of dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct.

This is because Henry Teo transferred more than $700,000 – which formed part of the bribes – from his sister’s bank account to his own.

The court earlier heard that the tenders were awarded by technology firm Seagate Technology International, where Henry Teo worked as senior director of logistics.

He had used his position in the firm and also his position as a member of the committee awarding the tenders to obtain confidential information belonging to Seagate.

His sister then used the information to help Shanghai Long-Distance Transportation (SLT) and Feili International Transport (FIT) obtain the tenders.

According to court documents, Seagate held a tender for trucking routes in China in 2006 and 2009. On both occasions, Henry Teo was in the committee awarding the tender.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Navin Naidu and Ang Siok Chen had said in their submissions that Judy Teo used the confidential information her brother provided “as an advantage” to assist SLT and FIT in securing the tenders.

In exchange, she received a 10 per cent “commission” of the revenue they earned based on payments made by Seagate.

The “commission” was paid to Judy Teo as “consultancy fees” under a contract entered between the two companies in China and another company, Twin Palms.

The DPPs also said that both siblings used the bank account of Judy Teo’s ex-boyfriend, Ong Eng Kiow, to receive the bribe amounts.

The court heard that Twin Palms was operated by Ong.

As Judy Teo had control of Ong’s bank account, she was able to withdraw the sums and deposit them into her own bank accounts in China, the court heard.

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The DPPs told Judge Ng that Judy Teo hatched a plan in July 2009 to purchase a property using the bribes she received.

She then entered into an arrangement with Henry Teo in which he transferred more than $700,000 from one of her bank accounts into his personal accounts between July 2009 and September 2010.

The monies were later used to buy a property in Hume Avenue, near Upper Bukit Timah Road, under Judy Teo’s name.

The siblings’ lawyers, Mr Bachoo Mohan Singh and Mr Too Xing Ji, had argued that the “commissions” paid by SLT and FIT were for legitimate consultancy services rendered by Twin Palms.

Judge Ng, however, disagreed and noted that Twin Palms should have drafted the contract between the companies if it were so.

On Monday, the court heard that the siblings intend to appeal against their conviction and sentence.

For each count of graft, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.

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