CPIB officer on $1.7m fraud rap

SINGAPORE - An assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was charged in court yesterday with misappropriating a total of $1.7 million in public funds.

Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong, 39, faces 21 charges in all, including forgery and using misappropriated funds to gamble.

Yeo, who had served in the anti-graft agency for 15 years, was suspended from duty with the CPIB's Field Research and Technical Support Branch and interdicted on Sept 15 last year, after preliminary investigations.

The matter was reported to the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force for an "impartial and thorough" investigation to be conducted, after the CPIB first discovered signs of Yeo's alleged wrongdoings on Sept 14.

Among the charges, he is accused of misappropriating $716,768 in cash from the CPIB between Feb 15 and Aug 28 last year.

He is also accused of "wilfully and dishonestly" getting a man named Lim Tiong Chai to misappropriate two cars and two motorcycles, worth a gross value of $46,676, from the anti-graft agency last June.

Yeo was said to have committed both offences while he was head of the Field Research and Technical Support Branch.

According to a Straits Times online report, Yeo told the court that he does not intend to engage a lawyer, but needed some time to deal with "family problems" and to prepare his mitigation plea.

He is out on $500,000 bail and his case will be heard again on Aug 21.

In a statement yesterday, the CPIB said that Yeo had circumvented some financial procedures that were required of all bureau officers to ensure financial accountability and propriety.

CPIB officers, like all public officers, are required to file annual declarations regarding their financial liabilities, and to confirm that they are free from financial embarrassment, it said.

CPIB director Eric Tan apologised for the loss of public funds that had occurred during his watch. He said: "As the most senior officer in the agency, I accept responsibility for any lapses or deficiencies which allowed a senior staff's actions to go undetected for four years."

Mr Tan said the anti-graft bureau will strengthen its safeguards and improve its processes to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The CPIB also stressed that it "does not condone any criminal or improper acts by its officers".

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said an independent review panel had been appointed to look at how the case happened, and to strengthen the financial procedures and audit system in CPIB to prevent a recurrence.

The recommendations of the panel are being implemented, the statement added.


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