A former Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Inspector, Yeo Kian Boon was found guilty for performing multiple unauthorised checks on foreign women entering Singapore.
In defence of his offence, Yeo said that he was trying to make more friends. Yeo, 31, who is now employed as an administrative officer and is no longer working with ICA, even called one of them and was caught after her Singaporean boyfriend complained to ICA about his behavior.
Yeo pleaded guilty to six counts of performing unauthorised checks and one count of abetting a colleague to do so and was fined $29,000 on Tuesday (26 December).
Sixteen other charges for similar offences were considered during sentencing.
Yeo used to be an ICA team leader at Changi Airport Terminal 1, therefore, he had access to computer systems that are supposed to be used only for work purposes.
These systems include i-Borders @ Central, which can be used to access information such as a person's travel history and passport details; i-Borders @ DO, which can be used to decide whether to grant or refuse entry to a traveller, and the Web-based Central Server Inquiry System (Wise), which an officer can use to access a person's travel records.
However, after screening a Thai woman and allowed her to enter Singapore while on duty at the T1 Arrival Hall at 8.50 pm on 12 December 2015, Yeo added her on Line, a mobile communications application the next day and began calling her through it.
According to the court, she did not answer his calls.
On 22 December 2015, she made a video call to him to ascertain the identity of the person who had been trying to contact her and was surprised to find out that Yeo was the ICA officer who had cleared her to enter Singapore.
Yeo also contacted one of his then colleagues, Mr Lau Jia Yi, and asked him to dig up the woman's details.
Mr Lau logged on to the i-Borders @ DO system at the airport's Terminal 2, obtained the information and sent it to Yeo via WhatsApp.
While on duty at T1 on 27 December 2015, Yeo accessed i-Borders @ Central and i-Borders @ DO to perform six unauthorised screenings on the Thai woman and other female travellers from Japan and South Korea.
The Thai woman told her boyfriend about Yeo's overtures and he sent a complaint letter through email to ICA about Yeo the next day.
Mr Josephus Tan and Mr Cory Wong from Invictus Law, Yeo's lawyers, said in their mitigation plea that their client's intentions were "naive and innocent".
"Kian Boon instructs that he is inept at interacting with the opposite sex and all he wanted to do was to build his confidence by chatting with women on Line," the lawyers noted.
The lawyers then told District Judge Jasvender Kaur that Mr Lau was given a warning in lieu of prosecution and has since resigned from ICA.
Yeo could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000 for each count of performing an unauthorised access.
An ICA spokesman responded to the Straits Times queries, saying that its officers are expected to discharge their duties professionally and maintain a high standard of integrity.
He said, "We take a serious view of errant officers and those who break the law will be dealt with in accordance with the law. All officers are constantly reminded on the expected conduct and behaviour. Advisories on offences, such as the misuse of IT systems, are also issued to the officers to reinforce the message that ICA has zero tolerance for such offences."