SINGAPORE — A sales consultant with a company that provided immigration consultant services and her mother, a customer service officer with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), were both jailed on Tuesday (27 October) for corruption.
Sharon Loo Wai Woon, 29, and her mother Lucy Teo, 50, had accepted a bribe of $1,500 from Fenny Tey Hui Nee, a 25-year-old Malaysian, in order to expedite her PR application with the ICA.
Loo was jailed for six weeks and made to pay a penalty of $1,500, while her mother was jailed for 18 weeks.
After initially intending to claim trial, Loo and Teo pleaded guilty to their charges on Monday.
Teo pleaded guilty to one charge of obtaining a bribe from Tey and five charges of conducting unauthorised screenings on the ICA system. Another 12 charges of conducting such screenings and one of accepting bribe were taken into consideration for sentencing.
Loo pleaded guilty to one of two charges of corruptly obtaining a bribe from Tey, with the other charge considered for her sentencing.
Tey had pleaded guilty to one charge under the Prevention of Corruption Act and was jailed for four weeks on 29 June this year.
Loo was then a sale consultant with Immigration Solutions (Singapore) (ISS), which Tey approached in July 2017 for help. Tey enquired about the immigration consultancy services offered by the firm on its website as she wanted to apply for Singapore permanent resident status.
As a customer service officer with the ICA, Teo handled public enquiries for passport, visa and PR application matters at the information counter. She would also issue ticket numbers to members of the public and handle the enquiries hotline. She was interdicted by ICA on 19 December 2018.
Loo attended to Tey and informed her that the firm charged $5,000, which Tey felt was exorbitant. Tey did not engage ISS services after that.
Instead, she asked for Loo’s help in her personal capacity in the hopes of a lower fee. After discussing the issue with Teo, Loo told Tey that she had “a cousin” working in ICA who could help expedite her PR application and the service would cost $1,500.
She added that “the cousin” had advanced access to e-appointment booking slots and had helped many foreigners apply for PR status successfully.
In September and October 2017, Teo and Tey arranged to meet on several occasions. During these occasions, Tey paid Teo in cash and and provided supporting documents for her PR application.
On 13 October 2017, Tey went to the ICA to submit documents for the PR application. Teo then handed Tey an ICA form which she had filled up. She also gave a file with the necessary documents to be submitted for the application and helped her obtain a queue number before Tey reached so that she did not have to wait for long.
After the bribe was handed over, Tey often asked Teo for the status of her PR application. Teo would then use her account on ICA’s Central Identification and Registration Information System (CIRIS) to check the progress of Tey’s application, even though she had no authorisation to do so.
Teo also did unauthorised checks for other persons on 20 occasions between 25 May and 30 October 2018.
This included Teo accessing the system to obtain her husband’s passport number for the sake of booking ferry tickets on his behalf, and using the same system to help her brother-in-law check his colleagues’ PR applications.
On 23 October 2018, Teo approached a subordinate to check what a particular status meant on the system and said that she was checking on a friend’s PR status following the friend’s request. Teo’s superior was alerted and ICA management was notified.
The superior suspected something was amiss because the status was meant to be internal information and not supposed to be revealed to outsiders.
ICA then conducted to an internal audit on Teo’s CIRIS account and discovered the unauthorised screenings.
Tey’s PR application was eventually approved and she became a PR on 9 November 2018.
Loo has since spent the money on daily expenses and bills.
In sentencing the mother and daughter, a district judge considered that both had no prior convictions and pleaded guilty. The judge noted that while Teo had abused her position in ICA, she did not hold a senior role with oversight over critical functions.
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