Building manager who demanded bribes fined

For three years, a building manager demanded bribes from a cleaning company boss in exchange for not complaining about its services.

Tai Ai Poh, 54, also instigated a cleaner to falsify attendance books, creating the impression that two cleaners were working when in fact there was only one.

Tai was fined $47,500 after he pleaded guilty to 25 corruption charges and two falsification charges in a district court in November last year.

He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $22,800, the amount of bribes he received.

The prosecution, which had pressed for Tai to be jailed, has appealed to the High Court against his sentence.

Tai was a building manager with ExcelTec Property Management, which manages two industrial buildings in Bukit Batok.

He supervised and evaluated the performance of the security guards, gardeners and cleaners who worked at the buildings.

He also had a say on whether the contractors providing these services should be changed.

In August 2006, Tai suggested to cleaning firm boss Yusof Razak to cut down the number of night-shift cleaners from two to one so that they can use the money for drinking and karaoke instead.

When Mr Yusof declined, Tai asked him directly for money. Mr Yusof agreed out of fear that Tai would give negative feedback about his firm's services, jeopardising the renewal of his contract.

Tai insisted that no money change hands in his office. So every fortnight, Mr Yusof passed $300 to a cleaner who handed the money to Tai at a secluded walkway at one of the buildings.

Tai also told the cleaner to sign in and out in attendance books for a fictitious cleaner, to hide the fact that there was only one cleaner after he asked Mr Yusof for bribes.

The ruse unravelled in October 2009 when the vice-president of the buildings' management corporation noticed the signatures of the two cleaners looked very similar.

When confronted, the cleaner admitted he falsified the attendance books on Tai's instructions.

In a written judgment released last week on why he did not jail Tai, District Judge Lim Tse Haw said there was no public interest in the offences, which involves the cleanliness of two industrial buildings.

Judge Lim said Tai was opportunistic in abusing his position to extract bribes but it was not a case where he corruptly influenced large business deals.

This article was first published on Jan 4, 2015.
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