Wife ran 'banking errands' for accused in graft case

Wife ran 'banking errands' for accused in graft case
Ho Su-Ling, wife of Mark Edward Tjong, is on trial for allegedly accepting bribes totalling $87,386 testified that she may have deposited the amount into her bank account.

SINGAPORE - The wife of a former business director of an ST Electronics subsidiary who is on trial for allegedly accepting bribes totalling S$87,386 testified that she may have deposited the amount into her bank account.

Ms Ho Su-Ling, 38, told a district court yesterday, on the first day of the hearing, that she would run "his banking errands" in the past because of her then boyfriend's frequent business trips.

Mark Edward Tjong, 48, is said to have received the money in 2006 from Mr Mujibur Rahman, managing director of Bangladeshi company Kings Shipping and Trading.

Tjong was then an employee of ST Electronics (Info-Software Systems), a subsidiary of the electronics arm of mainboard-listed Singapore Technologies Engineering.

The prosecution alleges that the money was a reward for appointing Mr Rahman, 65, as an agent of the software systems implementor who is tasked with clinching a contract in Bangladesh.

Tjong, an American citizen and Singapore permanent resident, is contesting two charges of bribery. He denies receiving any gratification as he was merely performing certain banking transactions for Mr Rahman, whom he regarded as a friend.

According to court papers, the Singapore company appointed Mr Rahman as an agent in March 2006 to help it win the contract to supply walkie-talkies and a telecommunications network to the Bangladeshi police force.

When the company got the project, it paid Mr Rahman his fee of $185,424 in July 2006 as part of the contract. The agent deposited it into a newly opened Citibank account in Singapore before returning to Bangladesh.

When he met Tjong in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka the following month, he signed two blank Citibank cheques and handed them to the American.

The first cheque for an amount of $57,386 was deposited into the POSB account of Ms Ho on Aug 11, followed by the second cheque for $30,000 on Aug 23.

Tjong then withdrew the money with cheques signed by Ms Ho, who was then his girlfriend.

Ms Ho, a sales executive for an IT firm, said she was unable to remember the transactions as they happened "so long ago".

Mr Chang Yew Kong, 58, who was president of ST Electronics (Info-Software Systems) in 2006, testified earlier that the management relied on Tjong to recommend agents.

The trial continues today.

Tjong resigned shortly after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau called him for an interview in 2011. He is currently unemployed.

If convicted of corruption, he could be fined up to $100,000 and jailed for up to five years on each charge.

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