Lamborghini-driving S’pore civil servant accused of fraud

September 29, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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AFP

A senior civil servant with a penchant for Italian supercars has been arrested for defrauding the government of about 12 million Singapore dollars (9.09 million US), officials said.

It is reportedly the worst case of corruption in the city-state, which has a reputation for clean government, in 15 years.

Koh Seah Wee, 40, deputy director at the information technology department of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), allegedly raised fake invoices for non-existent projects and pocketed the money.

Assets including a Lamborghini and a Ferrari, along with cash, have been recovered from Koh and a colleague, 37-year-old Christopher Lim Chai Meng, who is also under investigation.

Koh, who was charged in court Tuesday with 249 counts of cheating and other offences, has been in police custody since June, when his alleged crimes were uncovered by the SLA.

He was unable to raise the bail amount of 1.5 million dollars.

The Straits Times newspaper said it was the biggest criminal case involving public servants in Singapore since 1995.

According to the newspaper, Koh paid 1.55 million dollars for a Lamborghini sports car in April after having earlier splurged on two Mercedes-Benz cars in March.

Last year he paid 900,000 dollars in cash for an apartment and invested one million dollars in shares and other financial products, the newspaper reported, citing court documents.

The two men “are believed to have rendered false invoices through various business entities, for fictitious IT maintenance services and goods which were not delivered,” the SLA and Ministry of Law said in a joint statement seen Wednesday on the ministry’s website.

“The two officers are suspected of conspiring with each other and with the said business entities, thus enabling them to circumvent the checks and balances in the processes.”

Large-scale graft cases are rare in Singapore, which enjoys a reputation for being the least corrupt country in Asia and pays its civil servants some of the highest government salaries in the world.

If convicted of cheating, Koh faces imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines on each count.

For concealing criminal proceeds, he could be jailed for up to seven years and fined a maximum 550,000 dollars for each charge.

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