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Foreign talent's contributions to Singapore


Alfrescian (Inf)

Man, 37, gets 2 weeks' jail for exposing himself to woman walking dog​

Tan Chen Chek pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally exposing his genitals to a woman.
Leonard Leong/TODAYTan Chen Chek pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally exposing his genitals to a woman.
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  • Tan Chen Chek, 37, pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally exposing his genitals to a woman walking her employer's dog
  • This was on the morning of Oct 21, 2022 when Tan decided to go for a walk in his neighbourhood
  • Principal District Judge Victor Yeo considered Tan's mitigation plea but did not accept his "no premeditation" claim
  • The judge added that a "clear signal" should be sent to other would-be offenders
  • Tan was sentenced to two weeks' jail


Published May 10, 2023

SINGAPORE — As he was early for work, Tan Chen Chek decided to go for a walk in his neighbourhood and ended up unzipping his pants to expose himself to a woman he had targeted, who was out walking her employer's dog.
On Wednesday (May 10), the 37-year-old Malaysian pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally exposing his genitals to his 31-year-old victim and was sentenced to two weeks' jail.
Due to a court order, the victim's name and the location of the offence cannot be published.


On the morning of Oct 21 last year, the victim noticed Tan walking past her four times as she was taking her employer's dog for a walk.
Just as she was heading back to her residence, she saw Tan walking towards her again, holding a backpack over his groin area.

When he got closer, Tan moved his backpack away to expose his private parts to her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Menon said that in doing this, Tan had intended for the victim to see his genitals without her consent.
Alarmed, the victim ran back home while Tan fled the scene.
Details of Tan's eventual arrest were not included in court documents.
Principal District Judge Victor Yeo told the court that he had to consider the principle of deterrence when deciding the appropriate sentence.
He raised several points that were covered in the mitigation plea, which included the claim that Tan had "no premeditation" and had been "nervous and undecided" before committing the act.

The judge was unable to accept Tan's claims and found his actions to be premeditated because Tan could have chosen to go "straight to the MRT station to go to work".
Instead, he opted to continue "eyeing the victim" and walked past her several times before deciding to commit the offence. This, in his view, cannot be seen as an act done on the "spur of the moment".
The judge also said that the court should send a "clear signal" to would-be offenders that a jail term can be imposed, as a "stronger deterrence" to such acts.
For intentionally exposing his genitals, Tan could have been jailed for up to 12 months or fined, or both.


Alfrescian (Inf)

S’pore-based TikToker on trial for raping woman he met on Tinder​


Lev Panfilov faces two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Selina Lum
Senior Law Correspondent

May 16, 2023

SINGAPORE – A TikToker and former scriptwriter-actor with local YouTube comedy channel Wah!Banana has been accused of raping a woman he met on dating app Tinder.
The assault allegedly happened in his bedroom after he had taken her back to his home to work on her script.
On Tuesday, Lev Panfilov, 27, a permanent resident who was originally from Russia, went on trial for two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault by penetration and one count of molestation.
He is accused of committing the offences on the night of Jan 12, 2021, at the three-bedroom River Valley condominium unit he shared with his roommates.
He is contesting the charges in a High Court trial that has been set for 12 days. He is defended by lawyers Anil Balchandani and Ashwin Ganapathy.
The woman, who was then 30 years old, cannot be named owing to a gag order.
Panfilov has more than 27,000 followers on TikTok, where he posts comedic videos about life in Singapore, often speaking in Singlish.

In an interview with The Straits Times in 2022, Panfilov, who came to Singapore in 2010, said he picked up Singlish in secondary school, but it was during his national service that he used it on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, in opening the prosecution’s case against him, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sruthi Boppana told the court Panfilov and the woman met on Tinder.
The prosecutor said the woman decided to match with the accused on Tinder because Panfilov had stated that he was a scriptwriter on his Tinder profile.

“As the victim was trying to write a script at the material time, she thought that she could obtain advice and feedback from the accused,” the prosecutor said.
The DPP said Panfilov and the woman exchanged text messages on Tinder and WhatsApp before arranging to meet in person for the first time at a restaurant at Robertson Quay.
The two worked on the woman’s script over dinner, and at the restaurant’s closing time, he suggested that they continue working at his apartment. She agreed.
There, the woman took out her laptop as she sat with him on his bed, said the DPP.
The two then watched YouTube videos of various comedians, discussed comedic principles and worked on her script.

The DPP said: “After some time had elapsed, however, the accused showed his true colours, and the facade of civility he had presented throughout the evening crumbled away.”
She added that Panfilov forced a kiss on the woman and escalated his sexual assault on her, ultimately raping her.
She said the assault ended only when the accused had satisfied himself. He then told the woman she could leave, and booked her a private hire vehicle for her trip home.
The prosecutor said that in the days after the assault, the woman continued to experience pain in her lower abdominal region, and sought medical treatment.
The woman struggled to decide whether or not to make a police report.
She did so only after her mother saw her crying in her room on Jan 18, 2021, and asked what had happened.
Panfilov’s lawyers said their case was that the woman had consensual sex with him.
The first witness to take the stand was Assistant Superintendent Dan Dunstan Cheang, one of the investigators who went to Panfilov’s flat after the police report was lodged.
He testified that Panfilov had mentioned at the time that he did not have sex with the woman.
When Mr Balchandani put it to him that it was because Panfilov was scared of being investigated, ASP Cheang said that it was possible.
The woman’s testimony was heard in camera, meaning it was out of bounds to the public and media.
The trial continues.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Man jailed for duping employer and its sister firm into paying over $5.1m to companies linked to him​


Hussain Naina Mohamed was sentenced to 30 months’ jail on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of cheating. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Shaffiq Alkhatib
Court Correspondent

May 25, 2023

SINGAPORE – An assistant shipping manager at a construction firm duped his employer and its sister company into making payments totalling over $5.1 million to other companies linked to him.
Hussain Naina Mohamed, a 47-year-old Indian national, was sentenced to 30 months’ jail on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of cheating involving more than $2.5 million and one count of moving a portion of his ill-gotten gains out of Singapore.
Sixteen other charges, including those involving the remaining amount, were considered during sentencing.
The payments took place between 2009 and 2019, causing at least $500,000 in losses to Utracon Corporation.
Hussain worked for construction firm Utracon Structural Systems, which is part of Utracon Corporation, until January 2019.
As an assistant shipping manager, his responsibilities included making vendor recommendations to his superiors. He also helped Utracon Overseas, which is also part of Utracon Corporation, with similar tasks.
Among other things, Hussain failed to inform his employer that he was a partner at a company called Al Rahman Enterprises & Trading (Aret).

Instead, he recommended Aret to be his employer’s vendor for marine insurance as well as freight-forwarding services.
Hussain also recommended to his superiors his father’s firm, SM Enterprises (SME), as a vendor to supply plastic components.
The prosecution said that Utracon would not have awarded jobs to these firms had it known about the blatant conflict of interest with regard to Hussain.

As the companies linked to Hussain did provide services to Utracon as its vendors, Utracon’s financial loss amounted to at least $500,000 as a result of the cheating. This loss included the illicit profit Hussain made from the offences.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi said that Hussain and his sister were partners at Aret, which was registered in June 2009 and provided marine insurance as well as freight-forwarding services.
Hussain admitted that he had set up the firm solely to earn some cash from Utracon. He was also the only one making all business decisions for Aret while his sister was the “face” of the firm, said the prosecution. This was because he knew that he could not be seen by Utracon to be involved in Aret.
As a result of his dishonest concealment, Utracon was induced to award jobs to Aret and paid it more than $705,000.

In May 2011, Hussain approached Utracon’s director of Singapore operations and offered to source for an alternative supplier of plastic components that would purportedly offer better rates than its supplier at that time.
Hussain then liaised with an Indian company called Vijay Industries to fabricate the plastic parts that Utracon required, and arranged for his father’s firm, the India-registered SME, to export these plastic parts to Utracon.
Hussain did not tell the director that SME belonged to his father and that the plastic components were actually manufactured by Vijay Industries, with SME only marking up the prices.
As a result of Hussain’s dishonest concealment of facts, Utracon was induced to award jobs to SME and paid it more than $1.4 million.
Hussain also worked with a director of a firm called Indus Global Line (IGL) to cheat Utracon.
In 2011, the pair entered into an illicit agreement for IGL to submit inflated quotations to Utracon for freight-forwarding services, with Hussain determining the quantum of each mark-up.
Hussain then validated all the inflated quotations before submitting them for Utracon’s approval. As a result, Utracon paid IGL nearly $375,000.
On six occasions between May 2014 and November 2017, Hussain removed from Singapore nearly $142,000 of his ill-gotten gains by methods that include engaging the services of local remittance agents.
He later told investigators that he had sent the money to India to help cover his parents’ household expenses.


Alfrescian (Inf)

6 years’ jail for Hindu temple chief priest who pawned temple jewellery and received $2.3 million​


From 2016 to 2020, Indian National Kandasamy Senapathi, 39, pawned 66 pieces of the jewellery over 172 occasions. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Samuel Devaraj

May 30, 2023

SINGAPORE – As a priest at Sri Mariamman Temple, he was entrusted with jewellery worth more than $1 million that was used to adorn deities at the temple in South Bridge Road.
However, over five years, Kandasamy Senapathi pawned some of the jewellery, receiving over $2.3 million in total.
On Tuesday, Kandasamy, 39, was jailed for six years, after pleading guilty to two charges of criminal breach of trust by an employee and two counts of removing the benefits of his criminal activities from the jurisdiction.
Six similar charges were taken into consideration during the Indian national’s sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Janice See said that Kandasamy was employed by the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) in December 2013 and was promoted to chief priest at the temple in July 2018.
In 2014, he was entrusted with the keys and combination number code to the safe in the temple’s holy sanctum which contained about 255 pieces of gold jewellery valued at about $1.1 million, and was the only person who had access to them.
During special prayers or temple events, Kandasamy would have to retrieve the appropriate jewellery, adorn the deities, and return the items at the end of the ceremony.

From 2016 to 2020, he pawned 66 pieces of the jewellery over 172 occasions.
He was able to carry out more transactions than the number of jewellery by “rolling” the items pawned.
For example, he would pawn a piece of jewellery, receive the pawn proceeds, and then return on another day to redeem the first piece of jewellery by using a second piece of jewellery.

From 2016 to 2020, he received a total amount of $2,328,760.
His activities went undetected as he was able to borrow sufficient money to redeem the pawned jewellery whenever he knew an audit was being scheduled.
Once the audit was completed, the accused would pawn the temple’s jewellery again to return the money borrowed.
The accused deposited a portion of the money he received into his personal bank account and remitted $141,054.90 to India.

Sometime in March 2020, the temple scheduled its routine external audit to ensure that all temple items and valuables were accounted for.
But due to the pandemic, it was delayed and was scheduled to be held between July 22, 2020, and Aug 18, 2020.
In June 2020, Kandasamy informed a member of the temple’s finance team who was arranging for the audit that he did not have the key to the safe, and it was likely that he had left it in India when he went there to visit his family.
However, the finance team member insisted that the audit had to be conducted and informed Kandasamy that the safe may have to be broken open for its contents to be audited.
Realising that the audit will proceed as planned, Kandasamy confessed on July 2, 2020, to pawning the jewellery, and a police report was lodged on July 29, 2020.
All 66 pieces of jewellery he pawned have since been returned to the temple, which suffered no loss.
Kandasamy is no longer with the HEB.
In court on Tuesday, Kandasamy was represented by Mr Mohan Das Naidu.
When asked by District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan what his client’s motivation was, the lawyer said that he had initially wanted to help some friends in India, including one whose mother was suffering from cancer, as well as some schools back home.
“That’s how it started, and it got out of hand,” said Mr Mohan.
He also described his client’s action as a stupid venture and said that the temple suffered no losses and that his intention was not to cause loss to the temple.
In response, DPP See said that the real mischief was that he had used jewellery entrusted to him to generate a side income and that it was merely fortuitous that they had been returned to the temple.
Kandasamy could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust.
He could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both for each count of removing the benefits of his criminal activities from the jurisdiction.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Man allegedly duped Chubb Insurance Singapore into paying out over $8.9 million in false claims​



Samuel Devaraj

June 1, 2023

SINGAPORE – A man who worked for Chubb Insurance Singapore has been charged with multiple counts of cheating for allegedly duping the company into paying out more than $8.9 million in false claims.
Suyandi, who goes by one name, is said to have deceived the company into processing close to 300 false claims over a seven-year period, with the monies deposited to third-party bank accounts.
He has also been accused of cheating the insurance company into effecting payments of more than $1.6 million to third-party bank accounts, by purportedly creating fraudulent e-mails on 58 occasions between July 2010 and August 2016.
The 45-year-old Singapore permanent resident was on Thursday hit with 22 charges, including seven for cheating and eight for forgery for the purpose of cheating.
He is also facing four charges of falsification of accounts and three for acquiring the benefits of criminal conduct.
According to court documents, Suyandi had deceived Chubb Insurance Singapore, which was previously known as Ace Insurance, into processing 297 false claim payments of more than $8.9m to third-party bank accounts from May 2010 to September 2017.
In a statement on Wednesday, the police said that investigations showed that about $55,600 were allegedly laundered from the third-party bank accounts to Suyandi’s personal bank accounts.

In court on Thursday, Suyandi, who no longer works for the company, indicated that he has engaged a lawyer and intends to plead guilty.
He is expected to return to court on July 14.
If found guilty of cheating, Suyandi can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined. Forgery for the purpose of cheating carries the same penalties.
If found guilty of falsification of accounts, he can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined or both. Money laundering carries the same penalties.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Swiss man, 40, fined S$4,000 for smacking woman's butt in Zouk while on course in S'pore​

He claimed he drank too much.
Fiona Tan
June 15, 2023


A Swiss man smacked the butt of a female Zouk employee while she was bent over and cleaning a table — and tried to run away when she called for security.

On course in Singapore​

The 40-year-old Swiss national, Ramon Taboada Souza Neto, arrived in Singapore on Mar. 27, 2023, to attend a two-week course.

He patronised Zouk on Apr. 1, 2023, while the 39-year-old victim, a "table hostess", was working the floor at Zouk's VIP section.

The pair did not know each other.
The victim cannot be identified due to a gag order.

Smacked her butt​

On the day of the incident, the victim had bent over to clean a table at around 3:23am when Ramon approached her from behind and smacked her left butt with his right hand without her consent.
His actions were captured by Zouk's CCTV cameras.
The victim turned around immediately and saw him standing near her.
She subsequently informed Zouk's security officers that Ramon had molested her, and a security officer approached Ramon to speak to him.

Tried to flee​

Ramon exited the premises when the security officer questioned him about the incident.
The security officers outside Zouk detained him, and one of them called the police for assistance at about 3:31am, saying, "A molest case. Detained him and he is trying to run. Victim is with us."
Ramon was arrested by police officers attending to the incident and was released on S$1,000 bail within the same day.

Gets S$4,000 fine​

On Jun. 12, 2023, Ramon pleaded guilty to a charge of outrage of modesty and was handed a fine of S$4,000.
During the mitigation plea, Ramon's lawyer, Navin Naidu from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, told the district judge Ramon had no criminal background.

Claimed he drank too much​

Navin claimed Ramon committed the offence because he drank too much.
Even though the Health Sciences Authority found no traces of alcohol in Ramon's blood sample, Navin explained that the alcohol might have been fully metabolised since the sample was obtained more than 10 hours after the incident.

Wrote victim an apology letter​

Navin pointed out that Ramon was remorseful for his actions, adding that he had written a letter to the victim on Apr. 23, 2023, to apologise.
He said Ramon hopes to reunite with his family in Switzerland as soon as possible, as his wife is expecting their fourth child.
Navin added that Ramon had to stay in Singapore for over 70 days because of the incident, which was stressful for him.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Jail for man who tried to use roommate’s passport to leave S’pore after arrest for rental scam​



Nadine Chua

June 15, 2023

SINGAPORE – After being arrested for cheating multiple victims in a rental scam, Patel Dhavalkumar Chandubhai, who was out on bail, attempted to leave Singapore by using his roommate’s passport.
The 24-year-old Indian national was sentenced to 14 months and 14 weeks’ jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to five charges, including one under the Passports Act. The other charges were related to the rental scam.
Patel entered into an agreement with four rental scam victims, who had come to Singapore to study, to each rent a room in the unit he was residing in. Court documents did not state how many rooms there were in the unit or what kind of unit it was.
In May 2022, Patel demanded a rental sum of $500 from each victim, and asked for an additional $200 from one of the victims for groceries to be shared among the tenants of the unit.
After receiving the monies, however, Patel left the unit on the pretext that he was travelling to Malaysia for a short trip and became uncontactable.
The landlord eventually informed the victims that Patel had not paid him their monthly rent and that he had been giving excuses to delay the payment. Subsequently, the landlord demanded that they leave the unit.
The victims lodged police reports against Patel. He was arrested on May 29 at Changi Airport while attempting to leave Singapore for India.

He surrendered his passport and was released on bail on June 3, knowing that he was not to travel out of Singapore’s jurisdiction without the leave of the court.
In March 2023, when Patel’s roommate informed him that he wished to purchase a new mobile phone, Patel asked him to bring along his passport.
His roommate did so and gave his passport to Patel, who kept it, even though they did not manage to buy a mobile phone that day.

On March 20, Patel used his roommate’s passport at an automated passport counter at Tuas Checkpoint in an attempt to leave the country.
But his facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics did not match that of the actual passport holder, and Patel was referred to an immigration officer.
When the officer asked him for his particulars, Patel was able to recite his roommate’s details from memory. When questioned further, he provided a digital copy of his roommate’s student pass.
Immigration officers later found a deleted photo of Patel’s own passport in his mobile phone, and he was arrested.

In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Louis Ngia said Patel is a serial offender who has demonstrated a persistent disregard for the law.
“The planning and premeditation in the present case goes beyond the pale. (Patel) had laced his scheme with deception. He memorised (his roommate’s) passport details... and produced a copy of (his) student pass. The irresistible inference is that of his careful and detailed preparation in committing the offence,” said the DPP.
After District Judge Kenneth Chin meted out the sentence, Patel said through a translator: “The sentence is too long. I would like to ask my lawyer what he can do about it.”
After the judge explained that the sentence had already been passed, Patel continued to ask several times if he “really had to accept it”.
Addressing Patel’s defence lawyer A. Revi Shanker, the judge said: “I will leave it to you to advise him.”
Those who use a foreign travel document that was not issued to them in connection with travel or identification may be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $10,000, or both.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Man threatens to shut down Shashlik restaurant in Orchard & 'f**k staff's family from here to China'​

The man's anger seemed to be directed towards a male staff.
Joshua Lee
June 19, 2023


A Caucasian man was caught on video screaming at staff at Shashlik Restaurant and threatening to close down the establishment.

"I will drop every f**king last one of you"​

From the footage that was sent by a Mothership reader, this is the profanity-laden transcript of what the man said:

"I will drop every f**king last one of you.
Now, f**k off! And back the f**k off!
I will close your establishment down and I will f**k every family member you've got from here to China you little b**ch.
Because I own China too! F**k you!"

What happened in the video clip​

The man's anger seemed to be directed towards a male staff dressed in a black polo.
At one point, the man was standing nose-to-nose with the male staff while spewing his profanities.
The man was shouting so loudly that his words could be heard from several tables away, where the video was filmed.
Meanwhile, a woman, presumably a female staff, tried to mediate the tension between both men.

Customer: Profanities and outburst were uncalled for​

According to the reader who sent in the clip, the incident happened at around 9:15pm - 9:20pm.
The reader surmised that the incident could have arisen due to the customer coming late and the restaurant's policy of not accepting walk-in customers after a certain time. According to Shashlik Restaurant's website, their last order time is 9:00pm.
"As a dine-in customer, we felt that his profanities and outburst of emotions was uncalled for. Some of his statements were very racist as well," said the reader who commended the staff for remaining professional throughout the incident.

"They tried to request for him to leave the restaurant politely when he started raising his voice, but he refused to do so. The restaurant staff said that they would call the police and he claimed that the police can be called in because ‘he owns the Singapore Police Force too'".

Aside from the staff, other customers tried to calm the man down, according to our reader.

"Some restaurant customers also stood up and told the customer to calm down. After this video was recorded the man was seated at a corner beside the entrance and continued shouting. Throughout the time where the customer was seated, another restaurant customer was seen talking to him and trying to calm him down."

The man's outburst was a rude shock to many customers, among whom were senior citizens and kids.
The saving grace was the staff's professional conduct, which the reader commended.
"We would like to commend the restaurant staff and some patrons for standing up and staying calm. The restaurant staff also went to every table to apologise for any inconvenience caused."
Mothership has reached out to Shashlik Restaurant for more information about the incident and will update this article when we hear back from them.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Work pass not renewed for Indian worker soliciting funds for banned fundamentalist group: ISD​


The Internal Security Department said Baharudeen Sahul Hameed was investigated for his alleged links with extremist group Popular Front of India. PHOTO: ST FILE

June 19, 2023

SINGAPORE – An Indian national working in Singapore was found to be soliciting donations for the now-banned Islamic fundamentalist group the Popular Front of India (PFI).
In response to queries, the Internal Security Department (ISD) said Baharudeen Sahul Hameed was a work pass holder in Singapore at the time, and was investigated for his alleged links with the PFI.
Although he was a PFI supporter, there was no evidence to suggest he posed a threat to Singapore, and he left the country when his work pass was not renewed, said ISD.
“ISD’s investigations did not surface any information to indicate that Hameed posed an imminent security threat to Singapore or that the donations he solicited were for terrorist acts.
“Due to his links to the PFI, Hameed’s work pass was not renewed, and he left Singapore on September 21, 2022.”
Earlier in June, Indian media reports said Hameed was found to be raising funds for the PFI from Singapore and other places. He was arrested when he landed in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, the reports added.
The PFI is an extremist group that was banned by the Indian government in September 2022. About 250 people linked to the group were arrested in the same month, according to media reports.

The Indian government has cited the group’s alleged links with banned Islamist groups – the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh – as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the BBC reported.
Members of the group have been linked to several incidents of political violence, including the beheading of a Hindu man in the western state of Rajasthan in June 2002.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Two Wirecard Asia ex-employees jailed for offences including criminal breach of trust​


James Aga Wardhana and Chai Ai Lim are the first two people to be convicted over Wirecard-related offences in Singapore and globally. PHOTO: ST FILE

Shaffiq Alkhatib
Court Correspondent

June 21, 2023

SINGAPORE – Two people who used to work for Wirecard Asia Holding were sentenced to jail on Tuesday after they admitted to crimes, including criminal breach of trust, involving monies up to $223,070 each.
James Aga Wardhana and Chai Ai Lim are the first two people to be convicted over Wirecard-related offences in Singapore and globally.
Wardhana, 40, admitted that he was linked to a misappropriated sum of $223,070 when he was the international finance process manager of Wirecard Asia, the Singapore subsidiary of German payment processing company Wirecard.
The Indonesian man was sentenced to 21 months’ jail on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including one count of criminal breach of trust involving $100,000.
Six other charges, including those involving the remaining $123,070, were considered during sentencing. Wardhana has made no restitution.
Chai, 44, whose offences involved $87,000 in total, was the head of finance at Wirecard Asia.
The Singaporean was sentenced to 10 months’ jail after she pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust linked to $47,000.

Another similar charge involving the remaining $40,000 was taken into consideration during her sentencing. She has made restitution of $70,000.
The cases of five other people, who are allegedly involved in the Wirecard case and were earlier charged in Singapore, are still pending.
They include Briton James Henry O’Sullivan, 48, and Singaporean See Lee Wee, 30, a former Wirecard Asia employee.

In June 2020, Wirecard filed for insolvency in Germany after admitting that €1.9 billion (S$2.8 billion) in cash was missing from its accounts.
The company’s former chief executive Markus Braun and several other top executives were then arrested. Braun’s case in Germany is pending.
The Straits Times previously reported that Wirecard in Singapore had been providing payment processing services to about 1,900 companies in the Republic before the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered it to stop on Sept 30, 2020.
MAS also directed the company to return all customers’ funds within two weeks.
Wardhana and Chai had engaged in a conspiracy to commit their offences with other individuals, including Edo Kurniawan, whom they had reported to while they were working at Wirecard Asia.

Kurniawan, who was then the vice-president of controlling and international finance at the company, left Singapore in October 2018 before investigations started against him, and is still at large. Court documents did not disclose his nationality.
An Interpol red notice has been issued against him. Such a notice requests law enforcement units worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or other legal action.
In May or June 2018, Kurniawan convinced Wardhana to be part of a scheme to get $100,000 from Wirecard Asia, but did not say why he needed the money.
On July 16, 2018, Kurniawan sent an e-mail to one Stephan von Erffa, stating: “As discussed, James (Wardhana) came to me and told me his intention to resign from the company... To retain him... we agree to pay him ($100,000) as variable bonus.”
The person Kurniawan sent the e-mail to agreed to hand over the amount.
Wirecard Asia later transferred $100,000 into Wardhana’s personal bank account.
After that, as instructed by Kurniawan, Wardhana handed the amount to a person called “Karthi”, whom he did not know.
Separately, in early October 2018, Kurniawan told Chai that he needed to transfer $100,000 to India.
He later managed to get her to arrange a transfer of $47,000 from Wirecard Asia to See, who was then a controlling manager at the company.
On Kurniawan’s instructions, See then withdrew more than $40,000 of the amount and passed it to an unidentified man, said the deputy public prosecutor.
The DPP added that See later withdrew another $3,310 and handed the amount to Kurniawan.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Jail and fine for supply company’s director for bribing SMRT assistant buyer​


Between 2017 and 2019, Wong King Mooi gave SMRT’s assistant buyer at least $29,500 in cash on at least eight occasions. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Samuel Devaraj

June 22, 2023

SINGAPORE – After failing to win two contracts with SMRT, a director of a company that supplied parts began bribing an assistant buyer from the transport company to obtain confidential information.
Between 2017 and 2019, Wong King Mooi gave SMRT’s Soh Choon Heng at least $29,500 in cash on at least eight occasions.
On Thursday, the 48-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to four months’ jail and fined $4,000 after she pleaded guilty to three corruption charges. Two similar charges were taken into consideration during her sentencing.
Soh, who had accepted bribes from the directors of three firms, was sentenced to 21 months’ jail in January 2023.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Louis Ngia said Wong was acquainted with Soh through the course of their work.
Wong was a director and shareholder at CEE Technologies and directed the daily operations of the company, including its quotations to compete for contracts.
The company supplied SMRT parts for its operations, such as those for its passenger service doors and train gearboxes.

As SMRT’s assistant buyer, Soh was responsible for supporting SMRT’s procurement and sourcing activities.
When SMRT required procurement of items below $200,000, it would call for a request for quotation via closed invites. This entailed assistant buyers like Soh inviting vendors to submit their quotations to SMRT’s procurement system by a stipulated date.
CEE failed to win a contract with SMRT to supply it with parts for its passenger service doors in 2015. The company tried again in 2017 but again lost the contract to its competitor.

When Wong called Soh to ask why her company did not win the projects, Soh offered to help CEE get jobs with SMRT by providing her with confidential information of previous and current pricing lists in contracts CEE was bidding for, if Wong would “help” him.
DPP Ngia said they both understood this to mean that Wong should provide Soh with corrupt monetary gratifications.

Soh Choon Heng, who had accepted bribes from the directors of three firms, was sentenced to 21 months’ jail in January 2023. PHOTO: ST FILE
Wong agreed, knowing that CEE could use the confidential information to guide its bids to SMRT. She also knew that it was against SMRT’s regulations for Soh to provide her such information.
Between 2017 and 2019, when Wong wished to quote for contracts with SMRT, Soh would supply her with the confidential information relating to either the competitors’ quotations in the ongoing bidding, or past ones.
Soh relayed the confidential information to Wong either via telephone calls or by sending her e-mails with attachments of the information.
Wong then used the information to adjust CEE’s quotations to SMRT.
She withdrew cash from her personal bank account to pass Soh the money in an envelope.

Wong admitted in investigations that Soh’s information helped CEE gain an unfair advantage over other bidders in SMRT tenders.
On one occasion in July 2018, Soh sent Wong an e-mail containing the price list submitted by a competitor for passenger service doors.
Wong then adjusted CEE’s quotation to make it more competitive, and gave $4,500 to Soh.
However, despite the lower price offered by CEE, SMRT ultimately decided not to award it the contract as it had begun investigating the company for allegedly supplying it with counterfeit products.
For each count of corruption, Wong could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.


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Jail and fine for man who ran illegal remittance service at Peninsula Plaza​


U Sun Tint was the registered director of M/S Leo International Trading. It operated as a shopfront at Peninsula Plaza. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Samuel Devaraj

June 22, 2023

SINGAPORE - From a unit at Peninsula Plaza, the director of a trading company collected close to $30 million over three years from people looking to send money to Myanmar.
On Thursday, Sun Tint, 66, was sentenced to six months’ jail and given a fine of $100,000 after he pleaded guilty to providing an unlicensed payment service. A charge for carrying out a remittance business without a licence was taken into consideration during sentencing.
According to court documents, Sun Tint, a Singaporean, was the registered director of M/S Leo International Trading that was in the business of import and export of beer and seafood products.
His wife, Thiri Naing, a Myanmar national and Singapore permanent resident, was the manager of the company, which operated a shopfront at Peninsula Plaza. She was said to have acted under her husband’s instructions.
Sometime in 2017, Sun Tint was approached by various Myanmar nationals working in Singapore, including friends and foreign domestic workers, who needed assistance to remit money home.
While he initially assisted some of them as a favour, he later decided to offer remittance services from July 2017 and developed a business model to offer such services through Leo International.
An individual seeking to remit money would approach either Sun Tint or his wife at Leo International and hand over cash in Singapore dollars. The couple would then convert the sum to its equivalent value in Myanmar kyat based on the exchange rate set by Sun Tint.

There will also be a service fee depending on the remittance amount.
He will then sell the cash to businesspersons who approached Leo International to purchase cash in Singapore dollars. These businesspersons were typically Myanmar nationals seeking to purchase cash for their own needs.
Before handing over the cash, Sun Tint or his wife would direct the businessperson to transfer an amount in kyat, based on a rate published online by DBS Singapore, to a Myanmar-based bank account.

The account was operated by Sun Tint’s distant cousin, who was based in Yangon and employed to assist in the cross-border money transfer service.
At the end of the day, Sun Tint or his wife would direct his cousin to transfer various amounts in kyat to the bank accounts provided by their remittance customers.
Between July 30, 2017, and June 28, 2020, Sun Tint collected about $29.9 million and transferred about 31.9 billion in kyat to persons in Myanmar.
He estimates that he earned $87,200.64 from service charges. He also estimates that he profited about $30,422.11 from selling the cash in Singapore dollars to the businesspersons given differences in exchange rates.

On June 28, 2020, a police operation at Peninsula Plaza to combat illegal remittance activities found Leo International to be conducting a remittance business without a valid licence.
Four Myanmar nationals admitted to police that they were engaging Sun Tint or his wife to either use the remittance services provided by Leo International or make enquiries about the rates charged for the remittance services.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jordan Li asked the court to sentence Sun Tint to at least six months’ jail and a fine of $100,000.
The prosecutor said the case involved a staggeringly large sum and was an egregious breach of the licensing regime, which he knew fully well as he had made inquiries.
The prosecutor added that such offences threaten the integrity and reputation of Singapore’s financial banking system, as payment services may be easily used for money laundering and terrorism financing due to the anonymous and borderless nature of the transactions.
On Thursday, Thiri Naing, who was charged with a similar offence as her husband, was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. DPP Li told the court that a conditional warning will be meted out to her.
For carrying out a business of providing a type of payment service in Singapore without a licence, U Sun Tint could have been fined up to $125,000, jailed up to three years or both.


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Cyclist crashes into mum, toddler at East Coast Park, and now, he’s not contactable​


What was a leisurely stroll on a path used by both cyclists and pedestrians ended terribly when a fast-moving bicycle crashed into them. PHOTOS: ANDREW FOO, SG PCN CYCLIST/FACEBOOK

Amanda Lee

June 28, 2023

SINGAPORE - After finishing lunch at East Coast Lagoon Food Village on Sunday, Ms Jodi Lai and her family made their way home, walking towards the Singapore Wake Park.
But what was a leisurely stroll on a path used by both cyclists and pedestrians ended terribly when a fast-moving bicycle crashed into them.
Ms Lai, 36, recalled that she was walking in front of her four-year-old son, with her 36-year-old husband, Mr Andrew Foo, and two-year-old daughter trailing behind them at East Coast Park.
“There is only one lane, where the paths for bicycles and pedestrians merge. We were careful, keeping to the left... My kids were not running about,” Ms Lai, a school counsellor, told The Straits Times on Wednesday.
Turning to her son to take a cup off his hand, she saw the oncoming cyclist.
“He was so fast... he was looking at the side of his bicycle, and by the time he looked up, it was too late. I couldn’t even grab my girl in time to avoid the collision,” said Ms Lai of the accident that left her and her daughter injured.
Ms Lai fell and hit her head and tailbone; her daughter fell forward, hurting her face, arms and legs.

Mr Foo and his son were unscathed.
In a Facebook post about the accident on Tuesday night, Mr Foo said the cyclist was a male Caucasian with blond hair, 1.75m to 1.80m in height, who said he was British and that his name was George.
“The (cyclist) apologised profusely and said that the injuries wouldn’t be too serious. I requested his contact number and told him he needed to be responsible for the matter,” wrote Mr Foo in the post, sharing the contact numbers the man gave him.

“He gave me two numbers... I trusted him (which was a mistake) as my focus back then was to quickly rush my family to hospital for medical attention,” said Mr Foo, a product manager, adding that he was unable to contact the cyclist after the accident.
ST also attempted to contact the cyclist but without success.
Ms Lai told ST that the man who crashed into them was with another cyclist riding ahead of him, but she did not ask this second cyclist for his contact details.
“The friend was pretty much observing what was happening, he didn’t do anything for us,” said Ms Lai.
After the accident, the family returned to their home in Siglap, and Mr Foo drove them to Parkway East Hospital for medical attention.

Ms Lai, who was admitted to the hospital for a night, was given 10 days of hospitalisation leave.
“My tailbone hurts... I cannot bend down, wear my pants properly, carry my child or sit properly,” Ms Lai told ST.
Her daughter was discharged after being admitted for two nights and headed back to nursery on Wednesday.
“My daughter is okay to go back to school, but we have to look out for any behaviour out of the ordinary – such as prolonged sleeping and vomiting – and keep her wounds clean and dry,” said Ms Lai.
She added that she thought about keeping her daughter at home but decided to let her go to nursery, to help her move on from the accident.
“I want her to socialise and get over the incident, because she is a bit traumatised. I want her to be out there, so she can distract herself.”
Mr Foo said in the Facebook post that he had reported the incident to the police and was appealing for eyewitnesses.
The police confirmed that a report was lodged and investigations are ongoing.
ST has also contacted the National Parks Board about the accident.



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8 months' jail for man who used hidden camera to film 76 women having sex with him​

Johan Wijaya was sentenced to eight months' jail for filming women having sex with him without their consent or knowledge.
Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAYJohan Wijaya was sentenced to eight months' jail for filming women having sex with him without their consent or knowledge.
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  • Johan Wijaya, 32, pleaded guilty to five counts of voyeurism where he secretly recorded women having sex with him
  • He would record them with a powerbank that held a hidden camera
  • Investigations revealed recordings of a total of 76 victims who were recorded without their knowledge
  • Johan was sentenced to eight months' jail


Published June 27, 2023

SINGAPORE — After meeting various women on dating applications, Johan Wijaya filmed them having sex with him without their consent or knowledge.
During investigations, police found recordings of 76 women victims who had been filmed over a five-year period on Johan's devices. Not all resulted in charges against the Indonesian.
On Tuesday (June 27), Johan, 32, a permanent resident, was sentenced to eight months' jail after pleading guilty to five counts of voyeurism. Eleven other similar charges were taken into consideration during the sentencing.
After Johan met the women on apps such as Tinder and OkCupid, he would ask if they were open to having a casual relationship before meeting with them in person.
Before engaging in sexual activities with the women he met either at his home or a budget hotel, Johan would turn on a video camera that was hidden within a powerbank charger.

While the woman was showering or using the toilet, he would position the powerbank to face the bed.
As the powerbank did not emit any light while it was recording, the women would not notice that it was recording videos for the entire duration.
Johan would save the videos on his laptop or hard drive with the name of the victim as well as the date it was taken so that he can watch them later.
The names of the victims cannot be published under a court order to protect their identities.
Johan, whose occupation was not stated in court documents, did not disseminate the videos to third parties.


Court documents prepared by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chin Jincheng stated that on Jan 6, 2021, Johan got acquainted with a 25-year-old woman after connecting with her through a dating app.

The two decided to meet a few days later to have sex and then agreed to meet once a week.
During these meetings, Johan would use the camera in the powerbank to record their intimate acts without the woman's consent.
This resulted in a total of 16 videos that showed the woman fully nude with her face and private parts visible.
The woman was initially unaware of the recordings and had filed a police report in relation to a separate recording that Johan had made using his mobile phone.
Court documents did not elaborate on what led to her discovery.
The woman found out about the other recordings only after the police extracted them from Johan's laptop that had been seized for investigations.

A total of 391 videos were extracted, of which 336 contained voyeuristic elements.
The videos also featured a total of 76 victims, which included the 25-year-old and four other victims whose treatment was the subject of the charges brought against Johan.
Johan eventually admitted that the videos were recordings of his sexual activities with various sexual partners who did not consent to the video recording and they were unaware that they were being recorded.
He also admitted that the powerbank with the camera was bought in 2017 to secretly record such videos.
For each count of voyeurism, Johan could have been jailed for up to two years, fined or caned, or punished with any combination of the three.


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June 28, 2023

A 36-year-old Chinese national, Zhou Dani, had been involved in a relationship with her Singaporean lover for over four years. Despite knowing that he was married and had a child, Zhou believed that he would ultimately choose to settle down with her.
However, in late 2020, she discovered that he had been seeing another woman, which caused their relationship to deteriorate further. By August 2021, her lover expressed his desire to end the affair.
In an attempt to salvage their relationship, Zhou Dani decided to pay a visit to her lover’s house in September 2021. She hoped to discuss the two children she claimed to have had with him during their affair.
Zhou demanded through WhatsApp for him to come out of his house, but he refused. Determined to be heard, Zhou repeatedly pressed the doorbell, drawing the attention of his family members.
As Zhou’s ex-lover remained inside the house, urging her not to cause a disturbance, she climbed over the metal gate of the property. Once inside, she sent him a close-up photograph of his car and main door, along with threatening messages. She vowed to “crush” his car and even threatened harm to his mother if he did not comply.

In a fit of rage, Zhou grabbed one of his golf clubs and proceeded to smash his car’s body, windows, and door. Unfortunately, the golf club itself was destroyed during the act.
During Zhou’s destructive rampage, her ex-lover contacted the police, referring to her as a “lady stalker” who had invaded his home.
When the authorities arrived at the scene, Zhou was still in the process of damaging her ex-lover’s house. However, she ceased her destructive actions upon the police’s orders and was subsequently arrested.
It is worth noting that Zhou admitted to consuming alcohol before the incident.
Following the incident, Zhou Dani was charged with mischief, criminal trespass, and criminal intimidation. After pleading guilty to two of the charges and with the third charge taken into consideration, she was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment. Additionally, she was ordered to compensate her ex-lover for the damages caused.

The damages resulting from Zhou’s violent outburst were substantial. The estimated cost of repairs amounted to approximately S$18,361.67. This included the expenses for repairing the car, replacing the house window, and the value of the broken golf club.
During the legal proceedings, Zhou Dani’s mental health came under scrutiny. A private psychiatrist diagnosed her with adjustment disorder, which prompted the court to order a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) Suitability Report.
However, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) opined that Zhou was unsuitable for MTO. The IMH psychiatrist emphasized that Zhou’s actions were more influenced by alcohol intoxication than her adjustment disorder.
Zhou Dani has filed an appeal against her sentence and the compensation order. At present, she is out on bail pending the outcome of her appeal.


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IndoChine CEO fined S$3,500 for reversing 50m at roadblock while driving ‘drunk & distraught’ female customer home​

Michael Ma has paid the S$3,500 fine but is appealing a driving disqualification order of 15 months.
Kerr Puay Hian


IndoChine group CEO Michael Ma Zhen Hu was fined S$3,500 for a charge of dangerous driving when he avoided a roadblock along Clemenceau Avenue by reversing 50m and U-turning away.
The 55-year-old Ma, an Australian holding Singaporean permanent residency, has since paid the fine, but is appealing a disqualification order of 15 months.

Female customer 'drunk & distraught'​

According to a written judgment, the incident happened on Apr. 16, 2021, around 12:13am.
Ma had left his restaurant at Club Street with a female customer who he claimed was "drunk and distraught".
He decided to send her back home in his Audi e-tron GT. On the way back, she requested to be sent to a friend's house around River Valley.

Police spotted him reversing​

The police officers at the roadblock set up at Clemenceau Avenue towards Penang Road spotted his car stopping behind a queue of vehicles about 50m to 100m away.
They saw him turn on his hazard lights and reverse against the flow of traffic for about 50m before he made a U-turn through the U-turn point, which is a gap within the road divider.
A vehicle had to swerve away to avoid a collision.
The officers gave chase, but while they did not manage to stop him, they took down his car plate number.
The police called him up for investigations the next day.

Claimed he didn't know there was a roadblock​

After pleading guilty to a dangerous driving charge, Ma claimed in his mitigation plea that he "had no knowledge" of the roadblock.
He claimed he wanted to U-turn as he "realised that he was driving in the wrong direction".
Ma said he saw no vehicles behind him before he "slowly reversed".
His lawyer argued that a fine of S$2,000 and a disqualification period of six months would have been sufficient.

He would have seen flashing blue and red lights: Prosecution​

The prosecution pointed out that Ma would have "at least suspected" that there was a roadblock as from where he was, he would have seen flashing blue and red lights and at least one officer running towards him when he tried to take off.
The prosecutor submitted for a fine between S$3,000 to S$4,000 and asked for Ma to be disqualified from driving for 18 to 24 months.
She highlighted Ma's chequered driving record since 1999, which included not conforming to traffic lights and drink driving, and he was caught beating a red light again in November 2021.

"Cavalier attitude" towards road safety: Judge​

In the judgment, District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam explained that while the prosecution and the defence agreed on a fine, she elaborated on why she also agreed not to send Ma to jail.
She accepted that there was no property damage to other vehicles or structures on the road due to his actions, even though the level of danger posed by his driving was considerable, and it was clear he had no regard for the safety of other motorists.
While she also agreed with the prosecution that Ma's bad driving record demonstrated a "cavalier attitude" towards road safety, she believed a sufficiently high fine of S$3,500 would be enough.

Disqualification from driving important​

On ordering 15 months of driving disqualification for Ma, the judge emphasised that it's important to deter him from offending again and protect the public based on the amount of danger he poses to society with his driving.
She pointed out that the potential harm Ma could have caused by reversing against the flow of traffic was significant.
She highlighted that Clemenceau Avenue is "not a minor road but a major thoroughfare", which could have several motorists travelling on it late at night.
She felt it was "purely fortuitous" that the motorist driving up behind Ma was alert enough to switch lanes to avoid a collision.
The judge also pointed out that Ma has a "long list" of previous driving offences, which shows a "pattern of persistent reoffending" over 22 years and an "increased boldness" of his offending behaviour.
The case will be heard in the High Court at a later date.


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Driver who caused off-duty police officer’s death in Shenton Way accident given 10 weeks’ jail​


Andrew Charles Vasko was also disqualified from driving for five years. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Nadine Chua

July 3, 2023

SINGAPORE - A motorist who caused the death of a pedestrian when he collided into her while making a turn in Shenton Way was handed a 10-week jail sentence on Tuesday.
Andrew Charles Vasko, a 55-year-old American and Singapore permanent resident, was also disqualified from driving for five years.
He was convicted in June of causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.
District Judge Shawn Ho said Vasko, who claimed trial after he was charged following the accident in 2019, had failed to keep a proper lookout when making a right turn in Shenton Way.
The pedestrian, Madam Salinah Mohamed, was an off-duty police officer. She suffered multiple injuries after the accident, including a severe head injury.
The 40-year-old died four days after the collision, leaving behind her husband and their three young children.
The accident happened on the night of Feb 10, 2019. Vasko was driving his car on the extreme right lane of Maxwell Road when he came to a stop at a traffic light junction.

When the traffic light turned green in his favour, he moved to the middle of the junction and stopped before making a discretionary right turn.
Madam Salinah was then crossing the road, while the pedestrian signal was green and in her favour.
Vasko did not see her and collided into Madam Salinah. She was flung to the left side of the road.

Investigations showed he was driving within the speed limit at the time of the accident. Although he admitted that he had two glasses of white wine earlier that night at Sentosa, he passed a breathalyser test.
Defence lawyers Remy Choo Zheng Xi and Carol Yuen had argued that their client was not negligent.
They said Vasko did not see Madam Salinah crossing the road as there was insufficient lighting there. He was also distracted by a motorcyclist, who overtook him on his right.
The lawyers also argued that Madam Salinah had crossed the road while the green man was flashing, which they said was a significant contributing factor to the collision.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Fernandez said the assertion was “without basis and ultimately a red herring”, and added that Vasko had a duty to observe pedestrians’ movements and proceed with due regard for their safety.
The DPP said Vasko had failed to keep a proper look out and give way to Madam Salinah, who was crossing while the traffic light was green in her favour.

The prosecution on Tuesday sought a jail term of between four and six months, noting that the American had paid “absolutely no attention” to whether pedestrians were crossing the road, and did not take any evasive action by braking or swerving his car.
Seeking an $8,000 fine for his client, Mr Choo said Vasko was remorseful. He noted that his client got out of his car and rushed towards Madam Salinah after the accident.
Vasko also told passers-by to “form a shield” around her so that oncoming cars would know to avoid her before the ambulance arrived, added Mr Choo.

Trying to cope​

In an interview with The Straits Times, Madam Salinah’s husband, Mr Indra Shaiful, said it has not been easy for their three children since the accident.
Their daughters were nine and 12 when it happened. Their son was 11.
“It was tough for them to grow up, missing out on the love from their mom. They seldom express their feelings but deep down inside, I know they miss her.
“As for me, I have accepted that fact that she’s gone. But she was my soulmate. I miss having her around me,” said Mr Indra, who works as a chaffeur.

Mr Indra Shaiful and his late wife, Madam Salinah Mohamed, with their three children in 2013. PHOTO: COURTESY OF INDRA SHAIFUL
The 45-year-old said they met in secondary school when they were both 16. The childhood sweethearts were married in 2005.
“The incident happened when my eldest daughter was taking her PSLE. She is taking her O levels this year. My son is in Secondary 3 and my youngest girl is in Secondary 1,” he said.
The couple was supposed to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary in February 2019 when the accident happened that same month.
“The hardest period for us is during Ramadan and Hari Raya, because that is when all our family members gather,” she said, adding that his wife loved to cook for the family during the Hari Raya period.
Mr Indra, who still visits his wife’s grave every month, said: “Initially, it was difficult to come to terms with what happened but I’m coping well now.
“Life has to go on, and I have to be strong for my children.”


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Layoff at Circles.Life? Ex-employees spill the beans, while company refutes allegations

Zafirah Salim Zafirah Salim

July 7, 2023

circles.life founders

In this article​

Singapore’s thriving tech industry, once hailed as a beacon of growth and innovation, has been hit hard by the tech winter.
This downturn in the tech sector has forced several prominent companies, including e-commerce giant Shopee and super app Grab, to implement significant layoffs. The latest company to join this wave is digital telco Circles.Life.
A few employees who were affected by the downsizing at the company spoke about the layoff process and shared concerning details about the company’s work culture.

Second layoff for the company this year

According to the affected employees, the layoffs took place in late June and were handled in a similar manner to a previous round of layoffs in 2020.
circles.life layoff A Circles.Life employee voiced concerns about another round of layoff in an anonymous poll
Employees were informed through individual meetings dubbed “quick sync” with their line managers, while some received physical letters or emails on the day itself. The announcement itself was brief, mentioning that specific individuals had “graduated” and wishing them the best.
However, the layoffs were not communicated to the wider company.
While the exact number of employees affected by the recent layoffs remains unverified, it is estimated to be around 20 to 30 employees. This comes after an earlier round of layoffs in May, which reportedly impacted at least 50 employees.
Circles.Life, which currently has nearly 1,000 employees according to LinkedIn, saw various departments affected, including Marketing, P&C, Engineering, Product, and the entire B2B Circles X team.
Affected employees were apparently provided with the standard severance package – a two-month notice period and gardening leave – depending on their duration of employment.
According to the sources, the layoffs were not limited to just the Singapore office, but also extended across the region, affecting the entire Australia marketing team, including its Head of Marketing.

They also attributed the downsizing decision to various factors, such as cost efficiency, underperformance of the Circles X business, a decline in subscribers due to market forces and competition, as well as poor service.
“Circles X is failing as a product. A lot of their partnership deals were supposed to close but didn’t, and Circles.Life as a telco is losing market share alarmingly,” said one ex-employee.
abhishek gupta circles.life Abhishek Gupta, co-founder of Circles.Life / Image Credit: Circles.Life
Co-founder Abhishek Gupta, who previously headed the division, faced challenges as the business did not meet expectations. Out of the numerous partnership deals that were slated to close by the first quarter of 2023, only one was successfully closed.
During a townhall, the company allegedly mentioned that due to “investor pressure”, Gupta was “elevated to non-executive director”.
“His office was fully vacated at the end of the day, and converted into a meeting room,” said another ex-employee.
Following Gupta’s departure, the entire Circles X team has been reduced from a team of about 30 people to just five individuals.

“Toxic management and a terrible work culture”

The ex-employees also expressed concerns about Circles.Life as a company, describing it as having a “toxic management core” and a “terrible work and team culture”.
circles.life layoff A number of employees acknowledged Circles.Life’s “toxic working environment”
The employees cited examples of “open gaslighting”, intimidation and threats – “banging tables and shouting/berating in public is very rampant” – as well as “power playing”.
The work culture was said to prioritise sacrificing personal lives and rest time, with junior employees often working late while their managers were unavailable, only to have their work presented by the manager to the founder.
The employees also mentioned discriminatory hiring practices, lack of processes, and poor communication across all levels.
circles.life layoff An anonymous poll conducted office-wide showed unhappiness among employees
“The eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) have been tanking for a while now. P&C have tried all sorts of initiatives such as free food, anonymous surveys, townhalls, and announcement of a new office, but there’s no use,” said an ex-employee.
In response to Vulcan Post’s inquiries about the layoff, a spokesperson from Circles.Life refuted the claims. “There have been no layoffs at Circles,” she said, and dismissed the remarks as “untrue”.
However, the ex-employees showed their “agreement of separation and release” from the company to Vulcan Post, contradicting the spokesperson’s statement.
Other affected employees that Vulcan Post reached out to so far said that they are unable to comment on the matter as they are “under NDA (non-disclosure agreement)”.
Featured Image Credit: Circles.Life


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Jail for man who assaulted police officer in Balestier condo raid where accomplice was shot​


Nikhil M. Durgude attacked a police officer during the police raid at the City Suites condominium in Balestier. PHOTO: ST FILE
Christine Tan

July 10, 2023

SINGAPORE - A man who punched and kicked a police officer during a raid was sentenced to a total of nine years and 18 months’ jail and fined $4,000 on Monday.
This included a two-year jail term for the assault.
Nikhil M. Durgude, 25, had previously pleaded guilty to eight charges, including voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty, possessing cannabis and consuming methamphetamine.
Fifteen other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Noting that Nikhil also hurled abusive insults at the police officer during the attack, district court Judge Jasvender Kaur said this showed his “utter disregard for authority”.
“Officers deserve to feel assured that they will be adequately protected by the law,” the judge added.
On Nov 5, 2020, three officers including Senior Staff Sergeant Chua Ming Cheng and Inspector Zheng Yiyang went to a unit at City Suites in Balestier during a police operation over a series of cheating cases.

They identified themselves as police to Nikhil and two others, Prakash Mathivanan, then 36, and Malani Naidu Prabhakar Naidu, then 33, in the living room.
As the trio squatted and placed their hands on their heads as ordered, they began talking to one another.
After SSS Chua instructed them to stop, Prakash got up and lunged at the officer, causing him to fall. Prakash then hit the officer in the face and upper body.

Insp Zheng drew his service revolver and pointed it at the sofa, which was in the general direction of Prakash and Nikhil, and commanded Prakash to stop attacking SSS Chua.
However, Prakash turned to him and grabbed his hands, which were holding the gun.
SSS Chua attempted to get up and assist Insp Zheng, but Nikhil leapt up and began punching and kicking him repeatedly. He fell again and Nikhil continued to assault and hurl insults at SSS Chua as he lay on the floor.
A while later, two other officers entered the unit and Nikhil stopped his attack on SSS Chua.
By this time, SSS Chua was on the floor with a bloodied face.

The trio were arrested. Nikhil was taken to the Central Police Division headquarters, where his urine tested positive for methamphetamine.
Said the prosecution: “The accused attacked an officer who was attempting to intervene in a dangerous situation, effectively preventing SSS Chua from assisting (Insp) Zheng.
“The accused shouting abusive words towards the victim during the attack indicates that the accused was motivated by some degree of malice.”
Prakash was shot in the abdomen during the struggle and was later taken to hospital.
He was sentenced to jail for three years and 10 months in August 2022 for theft, cheating and drug-related offences. His other charges, including for voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty, are still pending.
SSS Chua was treated in hospital for a cut on the forehead and abrasions on his right elbow and left forearm.
Nikhil, who was represented by lawyer Ramesh Tiwary, listened quietly to the court proceedings via video-link. After receiving his sentence, he requested to speak to his family members present in the courtroom.
For voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant, Nikhil could be jailed for up to seven years, caned, or fined.