Ex-CPIB asst director took $716, 768 in 6 months

SINGAPORE - He allegedly started his crime spree in 2008 by misappropriating $1,200 of funds belonging to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

This amount quickly increased over the years.

Between Feb 15 and Aug 28 last year, Edwin Yeo Seow Hiong was allegedly misappropriating a whopping $716,768.37 of the CPIB's money.

Yeo, 39, who was an assistant director at the bureau, is accused of taking money from his employer - even while the high-profile case involving a multimillion dollar scam at Singapore Land Authority was taking place in court.

And he allegedly continued misappropriating the monies despite measures by government agencies to tighten procurement measures.

Yeo was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of criminal breach of trust involving monies totalling $1,760,053.35, 12 counts of using $241,030 of his ill-gotten gains for gaming activities at the Marina Bay Sands casino and one count of fraud.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Thevar told the court that the authorities managed to recover about $67,000 from Yeo.

So what happened to the some $1.4 million that was not recovered or gambled away?

The New Paper asked the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) if Yeo will be facing more charges in future involving this amount.

An AGC spokesman said: "As the proceedings against (Yeo) are still ongoing, it is not appropriate to provide additional information about the case at this juncture."

A fact sheet from the CPIB stated that it first discovered signs of Yeo's alleged wrongdoing on Sept 14 last year.

Yeo, who had served the bureau for 15 years and was an assistant director in its Field Research and Technical Support Branch, was suspended from duty after preliminary investigations.

Appearing calm in the dock as he was charged on Wednesday, Yeo told District Judge Kessler Soh that he was served with the charges on Tuesday.

Describing the case as one that is a "bit sensitive", Yeo also said that he does not intend to engage a lawyer and asked for more time so that he could make representations. He added that he also needed to settle his family problems.

An Internet search revealed that Yeo was the owner and manager of a company known as Tara Enterprise but these ceased on Sept 21 last year.

Out on $500,000 bail

Yeo, who was married in 2002, is now out on $500,000 bail and will be back in court on Aug 21.

The CPIB said that following the current case, the Prime Minister appointed an independent review panel led by then-Deputy Secretary (Development) at the Ministry of Finance, Mr Lim Hock Chuan, to review the circumstances that led to the loss of public funds. It has completed the review and submitted its report.

The PM has accepted its recommendations and the CPIB is now implementing them.

Commenting on the case, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean, who is also the minister in charge of the civil service, said that it is particularly serious as it involved a senior CPIB officer. (See report at facing page.)

He pointed out that about one in five of all cases opened by the CPIB every year involved public officers.

He said: "I have asked the head of the civil service to share the study's findings with his officers and to also make the key findings public. I understand that he will be doing so by the end of the week."

If convicted of misappropriating the monies, Yeo can be jailed up to 20 years and fined for each count.

And if found guilty of using his ill-gotten gains to gamble, he can be jailed up to seven years and fined a maximum of $500,000.

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