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Four charged for scamming almost S$1m from patients' Medisave accounts

SINGAPORE — In the first case of bogus Medisave claims here, three dentists and a manager of the Smile Division Group were hauled to court on Thursday (April 13) for allegedly plucking nearly S$1 million from 29 patients' accounts by filing claims for non-existing surgeries.

Four charged for scamming almost S$1m from patients' Medisave accounts

From L-R: Cecil Goh, Steven Ang and Daniel Liew, who have been dental professionals for between 11 and 22 years, allegedly made the bogus claims from 29 patients' Medisave accounts. Yeo Meow Koon (R), a practice group manager in the company, was named as the accomplice of Goh. Photo: TODAY/Internet screencap

SINGAPORE — In the first case of bogus Medisave claims here, three dentists and a manager of the Smile Division Group were hauled to court on Thursday (April 13) for allegedly plucking nearly S$1 million from 29 patients' accounts by filing claims for non-existing surgeries.

The group's managing director Cecil Goh and dentists Steven Ang and Daniel Liew each face between 200 and 600 charges of cheating the Central Provident Fund Board by making fraudulent Medisave claims between 2011 and 2014. All three have been dental professionals for between 11 and 22 years.

Yeo Meow Koon, a practice group manager in the company, is named as an accomplice in all the charges the three dentists are accused of.

Prosecutors noted that Yeo, 46, played an "assisting" role in the alleged offences, limited to submitting the fraudulent claims issued by the dentists.

Yeo and Goh, 47, each face 612 charges totalling almost S$900,000, involving two of Goh's own patients, as well as Ang's and Liew's patients.

Ang, 42, faces 283 charges involving nearly half of the total amount, S$434,000, cheated from 14 of the patients.

Liew, 35, faces 280 charges totalling S$389,000 involving 13 patients.

The alleged bogus claims ranged between S$300 to S$3,508 each.

Except for Ang, the other three are also accused of conspiracy to commit forgery for the purpose of cheating.

Each of them face up to 10 years' jail and/or a fine for each charge of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, as well as for each forgery charge.

Investigations started in November 2014, four months after the Ministry of Health (MOH) lodged a police report following audits conducted at four clinics under the Smile Division Group, which operates five dental clinics at Tampines, Hougang, Yishun and Choa Chu Kang.

No pleas were taken from the four on Thursday. They were let out on bail, which was set at S$500,000 for Goh, S$300,000 for Liew, S$250,000 for Ang, and S$80,000 for Yeo.

All the four accused will be back in court for a pre-trial conference on May 11.

Arguing for Ang's bail to be lowered from the initial amount of S$300,000 earlier, his defence lawyer Wendell Wong said that Ang had "acted in his patients' best interests".

The claims were made "with (the) patients' full knowledge, blessings and in some instances, at their requests", Mr Wong told the court.

Yeo had her bail reduced from S$100,000 after defence lawyer Tan Hee Joek argued that she was a "mere employee of the dental clinic" acting on instructions.

The MOH said Thursday that it had served notices of intended suspension of the three dentists' Medisave accreditation, and referred the matter to the Singapore Dental Council.

If the three are unable to provide a "satisfactory explanation" to the MOH within two weeks, their Medisave accreditation will be suspended from May 5, the ministry said Thursday. This means that the trio can continue to provide dental treatment but will not be able to make Medisave claims on behalf of patients.

Medisave claims can be made for dental procedures such as surgical insertion of dental implants and surgical extractions.

MOH sets limits on Medisave claims for dental procedures ranging between S$250 and S$7,550, as well as daily withdrawal limits.

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