Anti-graft officer gets 10 years' jail

HE WAS a senior anti-graft officer in an organisation dedicated to fighting corruption in Singapore, yet he ended up embezzling $1.76 million and using part of it to feed his gambling habit.

On Thursday, he admitted three charges of criminal breach of trust and one of forging a receipt for more than $370,000. Sixteen other charges were considered.

Almost half of the money was gambled away, the court heard.

The former assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) lost more than $479,000 at Singapore's casinos over two years and another $260,000 through betting with Singapore Pools.

In fact, Yeo visited Marina Bay Sands 220 times and Resorts World Sentosa on 152 occasions between 2010 and 2012.

As head of CPIB's Field Research and Technical Support (FRTS), he was responsible for funds released to pay monthly operational and ad-hoc expenses, such as goods and services.

He was often issued cash cheques and applied for an Internet banking account allowing him to access funds meant for the FRTS between 2009 and 2012.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Thevar said Yeo covered up these offences by "rolling-over" - paying off earlier expenses with new funds meant for FRTS.

He also asked his staff to persuade various vendors to accept delayed payments of the sums owed to them.

After noticing that several expenses had not been paid for, the CPIB lodged a report with the Commercial Affairs Department in October 2012, accusing Yeo of embezzling the money. He has since been suspended on half-pay.

In mitigation, Yeo's lawyer Tan Hee Joek said that his client had been involved in several high-profile cases. "He turned to gambling to relieve the strain and stress he was labouring under," he said.

But the DPP countered that Yeo had engaged in "egregious abuse" of his position as a senior law enforcement officer and his offences were deliberate, carefuly concealed and hard to detect.

His actions were "detrimental to public confidence in the integrity of Singapore's public service", he added.

elena@sph.com.sg


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