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Hyflux unit's former employee sentenced to 10 days' jail in bribery case

Hyflux 6 - ST file.jpg
DPP Derek Ee told the court that Khoo, who was employed with Hydrochem (S), had to liaise with employment agencies to source for foreign workers for Hyflux.

[SINGAPORE] A former human resource manager of a Hyflux subsidiary asked and received some S$6,000 in bribes from the director of a recruitment agency he was friendly with.

Khoo Chen Ee had recommended the company for a project that Hyflux was working on.

In return, the 36-year-old asked for the director of recruitment agency Leeds HR Solution to cover his personal expenses, including a short holiday to Bangkok that he took with his girlfriend.

Khoo, a Malaysian, was sentenced to 10 days' jail on Friday, after pleading guilty to two corruption charges. Another similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Derek Ee told the court that Khoo, who was employed with Hydrochem (S), had to liaise with employment agencies to source for foreign workers for Hyflux, which was working on an incineration plant project.

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Hydrochem is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Hyflux, and is the predecessor of the company. It was set up by Hyflux founder Olivia Lum in 1989.

Khoo came to know of Elumalai Selvakumar, the director of Leeds HR Solution, through his work, and subsequently became "good friends" with him, said DPP Ee.

"Khoo had repeatedly given positive feedback about Leeds to the Hyflux TAT (talent acquisition team), and never gave negative feedback about Leeds," said DPP Ee.

He added that Khoo told his team that Leeds was better than the other agencies in areas like crowd control and repatriation.

Sometime in August 2018, Khoo contacted Mr Selvakumar after a personal trip to Bangkok with his girlfriend.

He had spent about S$1,000 to S$1,500 on the trip, and Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar to "cover" it as he knew that Hyflux had awarded some recruitment contracts to the company and it was doing well, said DPP Ee.

Mr Selvakumar agreed and handed him S$1,000 during a meal at Jurong Point.

In September 2018, Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar for a "fee", as he knew that Hyflux was in the midst of awarding Leeds a recruitment order.

He also asked for some money to cover his expenses for a recruitment trip to Chennai in October 2018.

Mr Selvakumar gave him S$5,000 on Dec 3, 2018.

Two weeks later, Khoo was caught at the airport while on his way to a recruitment trip with Leeds to Chennai.

He had expected to receive another S$1,000 after the trip from Mr Selvakumar.

In mitigation, Khoo's defence counsel Suang Wijaya said Khoo had cooperated with the authorities, and had voluntarily paid back the S$6,000 he received.

The sum will be forfeited to the state, the district judge ordered.

Khoo will begin his sentence on Nov 6.


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