A 29-year-old policeman, Staff Sergeant Woo Poh Liang admitted to receiving $35,000 in bribes to help a 45-year-old man Filipino Angelo Salvador Beltran avoid being charged for insulting the modesty of a woman.by taking upskirt videos at Jurong East MRT station on 22 May 2014.
Woo was an investigation officer at Clementi Police Division who joined the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in June 2008. However, he had since been suspended from his job since 29 January 2015.
He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two charges of corruption.
Along with the two charges, he also faced seven charges under the Betting Act.
Woo had taken part in illegal betting during the FIFA World Cup 2014 matches. He was also being charged with another 11 charges under the Common Gaming Houses Act for buying lottery tickets worth S$2,164 from someone called Tan Zhi Liang Gordon on 28 May and 19 July 2014. He placed illegal bets via TOTO and 4D totalling over S$2,000 and placed bets amounting to over S$24,000 on the World Cup matches on 23 June 2014.
According to Straits Times’ report, Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said that Woo took a statement from Beltran on 10 September 2014. He was reportedly suggested writing in Beltran’s statement that he had just taken 5 videos, despite the fact that Woo found many of them on Beltran’s devices.
Beltran said that he had only $35,000. Woo then asked for all the money and asked him to hand $25,000 to him in $1,000 bills the next day. Beltran agreed with Woo’s proposition as he understood that Woo would help him to avoid being charged for his offence.
Beltran withdrew $25,000 and $10,000 from two bank accounts on 17 September 2014 and he handed the $25,000 in an envelope along with a letter requesting the return of his passport to Woo at a taxi stand.
Beltran then texted Woo to say that he needed the passport as he was required to travel to the United States for training the following week. Woo then told him to bring a letter from his company to the police station.
Beltran then went to the police station and handed him the letter. However, Woo said that he could not get his passport back. He asked Beltran to follow him to the investigation room and asked how much money Beltran had left. Beltran said he only had $10,000 left, which Woo asked for as well.
Beltran handed the rest of the money he had, and Woo told him that “90 to 95 percent chance he would get a warning”.
However, the next day, Woo told Beltran that he still would be charged. Although, Woo promised that he would help him to get a lighter sentence.
Under the advice of his lawyer, Nakoorsha A.K, Beltran then complained to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) about Woo’s conduct in September 2014.
The defence lawyer will give his mitigation plea on 11 October.
The maximum punishment for corruption is a $100,000 fine and five years’ jail on each charge.
Prosecution of police officers on corruption is rare in Singapore. In December 2015, a former senior investigation officer at the Singapore Police Force was charged in court on Thursday (Dec 24) for criminal breach of trust and intentionally obstructing the course of justice.
According to a statement by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), Mr Yeo Lwee Siong, 41, is accused of dishonestly misappropriating about $4,700 in restitution monies, which belonged to the victims of a motor insurance fraud case that he was investigating.
He also allegedly shredded a police report and an acknowledgement form relating to the restitution money. The sentence has yet to be passed.