Daewoo E&C looks to avoid blame after two employees plead guilty to bribery in Singapore

12 May 2021 6:15 am by Wooyoung Lee, Ben Lucas

Daewoo Engineering & Construction

South Korea's Daewoo Engineering & Construction has sought to avoid any blame after two of its employees pleaded guilty to bribery charges in Singapore last week.

Kim Young-Gyu, a project director at Daewoo, and Ro Sungyoung, a Daewoo project manager, both pleaded guilty to one charge of paying a S$30,000 ($22,600) loan in December 2018 to Henry Foo Yung Thye, an official at the Land Transport Authority, or LTA, in Singapore, to advance Daewoo’s interests in relation to contracts with the authority.

In reaction to the verdict, a press officer from Daewoo E&C’s media relations department told MLex that it was a “victim” in this case.

“We are victims here. The company has suffered from this case too,"  the press officer said.

“[Foo] demanded money repeatedly and the employees decided to take the money out of their own pockets and lent him the money he asked for. They could not resist his demand because he was the client in control of the project so they decided to lend money in fear of possible drawback,” the company press officer said.

“The company did not receive any benefit from the money offer," he added.

The press officer confirmed that both Kim and Ro, who are South Korean, are still employees of Daewoo E&C, but that this will be reviewed at a later date.

It is unclear if authorities in South Korea are investigating the matter.

The case

According to court documents seen by MLex, Ro used his own money to pay Foo.

“Ro later admitted that the gratification paid to Foo was obtained from his personal rental income from a property in Seoul,” according to the joint statement of facts seen by MLex.

Foo contacted Ro multiple times in the second half of 2018, requesting money. After initially refusing his requests, Kim and Ro eventually agreed to his demands.

“Kim feared that if they offended Foo, Foo could apply time-pressure on Daewoo for T216, and influence LTA’s inspections of Daewoo’s work,” the joint statement of facts said.

“T216” refers to the S$441 million contract Daewoo secured in 2014 to construct the Stevens MRT Station.

“Kim and Ro also hoped that agreeing to Foo’s request would stand them in good stead to be awarded future works from LTA,” the statement said.

Ro later transferred S$30,000 via four payments to Foo on Dec 6, 2018.

Over the following months, the pair leaned on Foo for help, the statement added.

On May 3. 2019, Ro contacted Foo to ask for help after Daewoo was given a poor score following an inspection by the Land Transport Authority on its work on the Stevens MRT Station.

“As u r aware, we hv submitted Jurong regional line 101, 102 which is HQ's main interest. Therefore we r concerned about adverse impact caused by today's inspection. I need ur help to cover up if you can,” Ro said in a text message to Foo, according to the statement of facts.

While Foo attempted to intervene, he was unable to change Daewoo’s negative score, and Daewoo didn’t win the contract for the Jurong regional line, the statement said.

On Aug. 14, 2019, Kim asked Ro to contact Foo and find out why Daewoo failed in the tender for construction of tunnels at Changi Airport because they needed to give reasons to their bosses in South Korea. Foo replied to Ro that day with a screenshot of the confidential assessment by the LTA.

Additional charges

Foo, who is Singaporean, is facing 23 charges of alleged corruption at the LTA.

He has been accused of corruptly obtaining a total of S$1.24 million in bribes, and 13 fraud-related charges, where he stands accused of cheating LTA colleagues into extending him some S$726,500 in loans but concealed the fact they were being used to service his gambling habit and debts.

Foo hasn’t yet pleaded to any of the charges.

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