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Singapore O&G ex-director charged with cheating

THE former lead independent director of Catalist-listed women’s and children’s healthcare group Singapore O&G (SOG) has been charged with two counts of cheating in relation to an allegedly dishonest deal.

Christopher Chong Meng Tak, a 62-year-old Malaysian, was on SOG’s board at the material time of the offences, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in a press statement. He was also a director of wholesale trade company Paromay.

SOG had acquired the business and medical practices of dermatologist Joyce Lim Teng Ee in 2015.

On Thursday, Chong was charged with one count of cheating SOG, for dishonestly concealing from SOG that Paromay would receive S$1.5 million from Dr Lim in connection with the acquisition. He also did not disclose his interest in Paromay.

SOG was thus dishonestly induced to pay a sum of S$26.5 million to Dr Lim, CPIB said. This constitutes an offence punishable under Section 420 of the Penal Code. If found guilty of this, Chong may be fined and/or jailed for up to 10 years.

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In addition, Chong was charged with one count of cheating Bank Julius Baer, where he had deposited the cheque for S$1.5 million issued by Dr Lim in Paromay’s account with the private bank.

Chong is alleged to have falsely represented to Bank Julius Baer that he had received the S$1.5 million as “shadow equity” paid by Dr Lim in connection with the sale of her business and medical practices to SOG.

CPIB said Bank Julius Baer was thus dishonestly induced to accept the cheque and to consent to retaining the sum in Paromay’s account.

This constitutes an offence punishable under Section 417 of the Penal Code. If convicted, Chong may be fined and/or jailed for up to three years.

Chong joined SOG’s board in May 2015. He resigned in December 2017 in the midst of a dispute concerning the company’s claim for S$1.5 million from him in relation to a transaction. SOG said then that Chong was involved in the transaction, but did not give further details.

In May 2018, SOG announced that Chong had agreed to pay the company S$1.25 million to settle the dispute.

CPIB on Thursday advised companies to put in place robust procedures in areas such as procurement and internal audits, to avoid falling victim to dishonest practices by “rogue employees seeking personal gains”.

Guidelines for companies on measures to prevent corruption can be found on CPIB’s website. CPIB also strongly encourages companies to obtain certification under the Singapore Standard (SS) ISO 37001, which helps firms implement or improve a corporate governance system to reduce corporate risk and costs related to bribery and fraud.

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