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Serious Ex-SMRT Buyer Jailed And Fined Heavily For Taking Bribes! Oppies Still Think PAP Tolerates Corruption?


Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset

SINGAPORE: A former assistant buyer for SMRT was sentenced to jail on Monday (Jan 16) for taking more than S$54,000 in bribes from company directors in exchange for confidential information.

Soh Choon Heng, 45, was given 21 months' jail and a penalty order of S$24,850.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of accepting bribes and two counts of forgery, with another eight charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Soh was an assistant buyer supporting SMRT's procurement and sourcing activities, including procuring parts for SMRT trains, buses and taxis.

He began working at SMRT in 2011 and was terminated in April 2020, after SMRT's internal audit uncovered that he had revealed to certain vendors information of quotations submitted by competitor vendors.

This information was confidential and was submitted in response to SMRT's requests for quotations.

According to court documents, the system that SMRT uses to support its procurement processes involves calling for a request for quotation via closed invites.

Assistant buyers initiate a sourcing event within the system, and if correctly used, the system does not allow the assistant buyer to view the pricelist submitted by vendors before the sourcing event is over.

However, assistant buyers can circumvent this mechanism by requesting vendors to submit pricelists through a message board or another section, allowing them to view the submitted prices during the sourcing event itself.

Between 2015 to 2020, Soh obtained bribes of at least S$54,850 from directors of companies that supplied spare parts to SMRT.

The directors are: Euro Bremse's Yong Ming Jun, CEE Technologies' Wong King Mooi and Alturan's Lee Won Jong.

In exchange for the bribes, Soh gave them information regarding quotations submitted by competitor vendors, so the directors could guide their companies' bids to SMRT.

Soh began taking bribes from Yong after informing the latter in 2016 that his company had not won purchase orders as they had not quoted competitive prices.

Soh then offered to provide Yong with confidential information if Yong could "help" him, which the latter understood to mean monetary gratification.

Yong agreed, and Soh gave the former confidential information on competitors' quotations for past or current requests for quotations.

In 2017, Wong, whose company provided parts like circuit breakers, sensors and valves, asked Soh why her company had failed to win contracts to supply SMRT with passenger service doors.

Soh offered to provide Wong with confidential information, but said that the latter should "help" him as well, and she agreed.

Soh also admitted forging documents - on one occasion in May 2018, he forged a contract with CEE Technologies to indicate that it was to supply SMRT with train parts for a two-year term instead of the one-year term agreed on.

This was to place CEE Technologies in an advantageous position, as it would have an additional year to draw down the S$100,000 that SMRT had agreed to spend on buying parts from CEE Technologies.

Soh also signed the document himself by cropping and affixing a digital image of the signature belonging to SMRT's director of procurement to the document.

Soh also signed another document in November 2017 instead of asking SMRT's senior category manager to do so, for "his own convenience", court documents said.

Soh has since voluntarily surrendered a sum of S$30,000 to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

The prosecutor said Soh was an assistant buyer for six years and "systematically executed" a corrupt scheme, undermining SMRT's procurement process and its integrity.

He said Soh was motivated by greed and committed the offences for his own financial interest, abusing his position and causing "substantial detriment" to competing vendors.

His actions had caused the vendors to compete on an uneven footing, said the prosecutor.

Soh was allowed to begin his jail term on Feb 10.

The cases for the co-accused are pending.