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SINGAPORE –A former NLB departmental manager was sentenced to four years and four months’ imprisonment on Thursday (29 April) for corruption offenses involving nearly US$600,000. The Court heard that the bribes were one of the largest bribes associated with the public sector.

Ivan Koh Siong Wee, 51, was also ordered to pay a $229,000 penalty for working in a department that was established to be the NLB’s leading e-books and other digital resources.He was sentenced to four years in jail for his friend, Low Pok Woen (52), a director of the company. in exchange for promoting NLB’s business interests.

Between 2005 and 2009, the two Singaporeans who committed the crimes committed 20 charges with corruption involving almost 500.000 dollars. Another 36 comparable charges were considered during the sentencing period for the remaining amount.In addition to being a manager in the NLB Department of Digital Resource Services, Koh has led Speedcuts, a company which offers hair-cuts. Between 2001 and 2005, Low was one of his employees.

Former NLB Manager
Image Source: The Straits Times

The court heard that some time in 2004 or 2005 there was a ‘strategic move’ in NLB towards digitisation, which referred to ‘keeping digital databases informative, providing electronic resources such as e-books and e-comics, and microfilming of ancient books.’

NLB members could then access digital databases, e-books and e-comics online. This move has led to the establishment of the NLB Digital Resource Services Department.

Koh shared news about NLB’s move towards digitalisation with Low. He also said that “to earn a living”, Low could explore a business opportunity in providing digital content to NLB.
Low incorporated the Database Resource Services company in November 2005 to provide the NLB with this service. Later, JCD Crossmedia and W3.XS set up two further companies. Low was the manager and shareholder of all three companies at the time of the offenses. In 2005 Koh was named Manager of the Department of Digital Resource Services in NLB. He became the second leader of the NLB.

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Former NLB Manager
Image Source: The Straits Times

He began asking Low for money for various personal purposes in November of that year. Subsequently, Low will set aside approximately 30 percent of its profits from its three companies subscribing to Koh as a bribe. In turn, Koh has contributed in various ways to advancing Low’s business interests with NLB.For example, Koh shared the digital resources that were of interest to NLB with Low.

The crimes were revealed after a police report was produced by the senior assistant director of the NLB on 21 Feb 2014, stating that Low’s companies might be fraudulent while supplying the board with digital content. Koh’s cash back totaling more than $352,000 has since been heard by the court.

On Thursdays both men were offered a $80,000 bail and on May 14 ordered the state courts to surrender to begin their terms of jail. An offender may be imprisoned for up to five years and penalized for up to 100,000 dollars per graft count.

Source: The Straits Times

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