Ex-STTA chief cleared of remaining charges

Ex-STTA chief cleared of remaining charges

SINGAPORE - Former Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) chief Choo Wee Khiang was yesterday cleared of the three remaining corruption charges he faced.

These were for allegedly accepting bribes from former coaches and a national player - charges that were stood down earlier, while another unrelated case against him went to trial.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Haniza Abnass applied for a discharge amounting to an acquittal in respect of the three remaining corruption charges.

The prosecution's application was granted by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim.

Mr Choo, who stepped down from the STTA in 2008 after nearly 20 years at the helm, was alleged to have accepted $1,500 in bribes from Chinese national Liu Zhongze in 2005.

The 59-year-old was also accused of accepting a total of US$600 (S$753) in bribes from STTA coach Shi Mei Sheng on two separate occasions in 2003 and 2004.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said the prosecution had considered the circumstances relating to the three charges, including the availability of foreign witnesses.

It was decided after careful consideration that a stern warning in lieu of prosecution would be appropriate.

Mr Choo has since accepted the stern warning.

A stern warning is administered by the enforcement authorities to an individual when the prosecution has assessed that the latter has committed an offence and that the circumstances are such that the prosecution considers it appropriate to deal with the matter with a stern warning instead of proceedings in court.

If an offender accepts the stern warning administered to him, a record of the stern warning for the offence committed is retained in the enforcement authorities' records.

The former MP for Jalan Besar GRC was acquitted after a trial last July of misappropriating $8,400 to pay assistant coach Luo Jie.

A district court had found that there was neither wrongful loss to the STTA nor wrongful gain to the coach, since the money was contractually due to Mr Luo.

The High Court in March this year also upheld Mr Choo's acquittal for criminal breach of trust, dismissing the prosecution's appeal.

Mr Choo's lawyer K. Muralidharan Pillai yesterday expressed his gratitude to the prosecutor for reviewing the case after his client's acquittal was upheld in the High Court in March.

elena@sph.com.sg

This article was published on May 1 in The Straits Times.

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