ICA officer, daughter jailed for taking S$1,500 bribe to expedite Singapore PR application

Lucy Teo (third from right) and her daughter Sharon Loo (second from right) were jailed for taking a bribe from a woman who wanted Teo to help her speed up her application for a Singaporean permanent residency. — TODAY pic
Lucy Teo (third from right) and her daughter Sharon Loo (second from right) were jailed for taking a bribe from a woman who wanted Teo to help her speed up her application for a Singaporean permanent residency. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Oct 27 — When a Malaysian woman asked Sharon Loo Wai Woon about her company’s immigration consultancy services, Loo roped in her mother to expedite the woman’s application to be a Singapore permanent resident (PR).

Loo’s mother, Lucy Teo, used her position as a customer service officer with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to do it.

For that favour, the pair took a bribe of S$1,500 (RM4,598) from Fenny Tey Hui Nee, who was granted PR status about a year later. 

Loo claimed that she spent the sum on daily expenses and bills.

Teo, 49, was sentenced to 18 weeks’ jail while Loo, 28 was handed a six-week jail sentence today.

Loo was also ordered to pay a penalty of S$1,500. They will begin serving their sentence on Nov 2.

They had pleaded guilty to corruption charges on what was supposed to be their first day of trial yesterday. Teo also admitted to five counts of unauthorised access to computer material.

In June, Tey was sentenced to four weeks’ jail for bribing them.

Teo has been interdicted — that is, suspended without pay from her job — since Dec 19, 2018.

How it began

The court heard that in July 2017, Tey made online inquiries about Singapore PR applications with Loo’s company, M/s Immigration Solutions (Singapore).

Loo then told her that the firm’s fees for immigration consultancy services was S$5,000. Tey felt that it was too expensive.

After their meeting, Tey asked for Loo’s help in her personal capacity so that she could pay a lower price.

Loo told her that she had a cousin who worked in ICA and could help speed up her PR application, which would cost S$1,500. 

Loo had already discussed this sum with her mother.

Teo and Tey then met at Paya Lebar Square four times in September and October 2017. Tey handed over S$750 in cash on each of the final two occasions.

She initially wanted to hand over the first sum through a bank transfer because she wanted proof of the transaction, but Teo declined to provide her bank account details and said that she accepted only payment in cash.

Teo eventually gave Tey a handwritten receipt acknowledging the payment.

Used ICA system for checks

On Oct 13 in 2017, Teo helped Tey to fill in an ICA form and handed it to her when she submitted documents for her application with the authority.

She also gave Tey a file with the necessary documents and helped her to obtain a queue number before she got there.

Between May and October 2018, Teo then conducted 20 unauthorised checks on the progress of Tey’s and other people’s PR applications on the ICA system. Tey had kept asking her about the status.

On Oct 23 in 2018, Teo approached her subordinate to check what a particular status meant on the system. She said that she was checking a friend’s PR status on the friend’s request.

Her superior learned of this and suspected that something was amiss because PR statuses should not be disclosed to outsiders.

ICA then conducted an internal audit of Teo’s account and discovered what she had done. Court documents did not state when this happened.

Tey was eventually granted PR status on Nov 9 in 2018.

Separately, Teo conducted unauthorised searches on the system for her husband and brother-in-law in 2018.

While she was at work, her husband asked her to help him book ferry tickets. She could not remember his passport number and found it through the ICA system.

Her brother-in-law also asked her to help check on two of his colleagues’ PR applications.

For obtaining gratification, Loo and Teo could have been jailed up to five years or fined up to S$100,000, or both.

For each charge of unauthorised access to computer material, Teo could have been jailed up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or both. — TODAY

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