Source: Terry Xu/TOC

SINGAPORE – A 60-year-old Residents’ Network (RN) chairman was sentenced to seven months’ jail yesterday (30 Jan) for committing cheating offences involving more than S$10,800.

Teo Kum Weng, former chairman of the Woodlands Zone 8 Residents’ Network, deceived his vice-chairman and treasurer to approve multiple payment claims between 2018 and 2021.

This included misleading the RN to engage a cleaner’s services without telling them that she was his wife. The group also engaged with a firm’s services in which Mr Teo concealed that he was the firm’s owner.

The offences were brought to light after an officer from the director’s office of Sembawang GRC conducted a review and later discovered several financial irregularities in RN’s finances under the management of Mr Teo and his team.

The police were then alerted on 30 November 2021 about the crime.

According to The Straits Times, Mr Teo told the other members of the RN in 2018 that a cleaner the group hired was not doing a good job, which they paid S$300 per month.

He asked the group to engage a cleaner, Madam Xiang Jing Jing to perform the job at S$280 per month.

However, Mr Teo did not tell them Madam Xiang was his wife and even gave a false address to the RN as Madam Xiang’s address.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Ee Kiat said the accused was afraid that the RN would become aware of his conflict of interest, which would make it more difficult for their engagement in his wife’s cleaning services.

Unaware of Madam Xiang’s relationship with Mr Teo, then-treasurer Sivanesan Saminathan approved payments totalling nearly S$4,200 to her between December 2019 and November 2020 for the cleaning services rendered.

Induced RN to hire services from his own company

Between December 2019 and December 2020, Mr Teo duped the RN’s then-vice-chairman Kian Too Chong and Sivanesan, to authorise payments totalling S$2,840 to hire services from a maintenance and painting company, TKW.

Mr Teo did not tell his fellow RN members that he owned the firm.

“He also sought to further conceal his ownership of TKW to members of the RN by using a variety of signatures, including one which read ‘Shirley’, on invoices issued by TKW, ” DPP Gan told the court.

According to a search of ACRA’s records, however, Mr Teo does not seem to have any live companies under his name.

Mr Teo made other false payment claims between July 2020 and August 2021 on reimbursements for purchases and services, including air-conditioning servicing. The RN’s then vice-chairman and treasurer were cheated into approving payments totaling some $3,800.

DPP Gan added that the duo had trusted Mr Teo’s honesty. They did not inquire further into the claims beyond ensuring the amount in the supporting documents he provided tallied with the amount to be disbursed to him.

Mr Teo was sentenced to seven months’ jail after pleading guilty to five counts of cheating.

The People’s Association (PA) said it had terminated Teo’s services as a grassroots volunteer in November 2021.

The RNs were set up by the PA in 2018 to promote greater social mixing between residents across all ages, races and all estates.

PA on its website, states that by working closely with the government agencies and community partners, RNs help residents know one another better, seek to understand local needs, concerns, and aspirations, as well as help communicate government messages.

The functions of the RNs are to:

  • To promote neighbourliness, social cohesion among residents from the public and private housing estates of the Designated Zone;
  • To liaise with and make recommendations to governmental authorities on the needs and aspirations of residents of the Designated Zone;
  • To disseminate information and channel feedback on government policies and actions from residents of the Designated Zone; and
  • To promote good citizenship among residents of the Designated Zone.

A budget of S$711.07 million was allocated to PA to operate its community centres, Residents’ Committees (RC) and Neighbourhood Committees (NC) and RNs in FY2022.

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