Ex-researcher cheated NUS out of over $39,000 in misrepresentation


Researcher Thomas Teh Kok Hiong cheated NUS out of S$39,452.44 in claims. (PHOTO: Yahoo file)

SINGAPORE – A staff member at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has deceived his employer by reimbursing him a total of S$39,452.44 for misrepresentation over eight years.

Thomas Teh Kok Hiong, 42, was a researcher in the Department of Biomedical Engineering when he made the claims, allegedly for work-related equipment. Instead, Teh actually submitted claims for items he purchased for personal use or for the use of his family members.

Teh pleaded guilty Tuesday, June 14, to five counts of cheating and two counts of forgery. His sentencing was adjourned until July 25.

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Teh submitted 22 complaints between October 2010 and September 2018.

They allegedly included items such as wire rope, polycarbonate, steel, desoldering kits, alcohol wipes, drill bits, thermoscanners and absorbent pads, among others. As usual, he would submit his requests through an electronic system accessible through the NUS staff portal. Once the request is submitted, the expense report will be sent to an auditor who will ensure that the appropriate documentation has been attached.

The claim would then be routed to a claim approver who would perform a second round of checks. The request would be sent to the Finance Office for reimbursement. No physical checks would be made to verify that the goods subject to the claims were actually obtained.

Amended receipts

As part of his scheme, Teh submitted an expense report to NUS containing false or inflated claims, altering the relevant receipts or invoices.

For example, on October 16, 2017, Teh hired DS Specialty Services to install solar film on his car. He paid $300 for the personal purchase. Even though he was not entitled to claim this amount, Teh forged a store receipt and entered the description “UV Protection Film (1 roll)” with the price of $4,815 reflected. He presented the false document as an expense report.

On another occasion, on January 3, 2018, Teh submitted an expense report and claimed $2,820 for a linear stage, stepper motor, and actuator from New Century Electronics. In fact, Teh had spent $1,000 on a label maker and a radio for his personal use.

He forged a document by entering false descriptions and the amount of $2,820 on a blank cash sales document. He then submitted this document in support of his claim for reimbursement.

Teh has since made a full restitution to NUS.

Teh had been charged alongside NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Professor Tan Kok Kiong, who is accused of submitting S$100,100 in fraudulent claims to the university. His case is still pending.

Teh can be jailed for up to three years, fined or both for cheating. For forgery, he can be imprisoned for up to four years, or fined, or both.

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