MDA man charged with corruption, forgery

SINGAPORE - As a senior official at the Media Development Authority (MDA), Lai Wai Khuen had the power to facilitate the disbursement of grants to fund industry projects after evaluating applications.

But he allegedly abused his position to ask for monetary loans from grant applicants.

The 37-year-old was charged in court Friday morning with 31 counts of corruption and forgery.

Lai is accused of obtaining gratification in the form of loans on 27 occasions, and attempting to obtain another loan as an inducement to facilitate the approval and disbursement of grants.

He is also accused of forging documents on three occasions.

Lai is an assistant director of the MDA's Industry Operations Division, which oversees the evaluation of grant applications and grant disbursement.

Investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) revealed that from 2010 to 2013, he allegedly obtained loans amounting to $23,565 from 12 individuals, and on another occasion, attempted to obtain a loan of $3,000 without success.

He also allegedly forged documents by fraudulently signing off as Mr Thomas Lim, who is a director with the MDA.

Lai, who showed up in court without a lawyer, intends to plead guilty. If he does, the prosecution said it intends to proceed on seven of the charges and take the remaining 24 into consideration.

The prosecution asked for the case to be adjourned by one week. But Lai, who did not post bail, requested an adjournment until after the Chinese New Year.

His case will be mentioned again on Feb 17.

Lai, who joined the MDA in October 2009, has been suspended from duty.

If found guilty of corruption, he faces a maximum fine of $100,000, or a jail term of up to five years, or both. For forgery, he faces imprisonment of up to four years, or a fine, or both.

Between September 2011 and September last year, the MDA gave out 1,975 grants worth about $35.92 million.

In February last year, The Straits Times reported that Lai was involved in a CPIB probe following a complaint against him which surfaced in December 2012.

A spokesman for the authority said on Friday: "MDA took immediate action and reported the matter to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau upon the discovery of apparent irregularities."

MDA will "await the outcome of the case" before commencing "disciplinary action" on Lai, she added.

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