ICA officer faces 35 counts of corruption

SINGAPORE - AN IMMIGRATION and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) specialist who allegedly took bribes in exchange for visit passes into Singapore was charged with 35 counts of corruption on Wednesday.

Mohammed Mustaffa Mohabat Ali, 29, faces a fine of up to $100,000 and/or five years' jail on each charge.

He had been attached to Tuas Checkpoint as a primary screening officer.

His duties included inspecting travellers' passports and granting them visit passes into Singapore.

But between October 2010 and June 2011, he allegedly took bribes in return for issuing visit passes to Filipino and Vietnamese women who wanted to come here.

He worked mainly with one Philibert Tng Hai Swee.

The accomplice would drive the women through the checkpoint when Mustaffa was on duty, and then seek him out to grant the visit passes.

The foreigners would be charged between $250 and $550 each time.

Mustaffa faces 22 counts of accepting bribes totalling about $8,050 from the women, and seven counts of agreeing to accept at least $2,200.

But he did not just take bribes, he offered them as well.

He allegedly gave a total of $350 to three colleagues, who are no longer with the ICA, and a former ICA staff member to grant visit passes to the Filipinas.

He is also charged with offering two of them $50 each.

Mustaffa was arrested after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said it had cracked a case in mid-2011 involving ICA officers who allegedly facilitated the granting of visit passes to foreigners in exchange for money.

In a statement, CPIB said Singapore has always adopted a zero- tolerance approach towards corruption and criminal activities.

"CPIB takes a serious view of any corrupt practice, and will not hesitate to take action against any party involved, even if they are public officers."

Mustaffa, who has been suspended from duty, indicated on Wednesday that he wished to get a Criminal Legal Aid Scheme lawyer.

His police bail of $10,000 has been extended until Sept 25.

elena@sph.com.sg

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