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Nursery supplier found guilty of giving bribes worth S$143,000 to Island Landscape director

SINGAPORE — He gave the director of a landscaping and plant nursery company S$143,000 in bribes, hoping it would boost his own business.

Nursery supplier found guilty of giving bribes worth S$143,000 to Island Landscape director

Loo Nee Soon, a director and shareholder of garden centre Sinflora, was found guilty of eight counts of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He had given the director of a landscaping and plant nursery company S$143,000 in bribes.

SINGAPORE — He gave the director of a landscaping and plant nursery company S$143,000 in bribes, hoping it would boost his own business.

On Friday (March 22), Loo Nee Soon, a director and shareholder of garden centre Sinflora, was found guilty by a district court of eight counts of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Loo, 62, had pleaded not guilty to the offences, which took place between 2008 and 2010.

On eight occasions, he had given cash cheques with values ranging from S$10,000 to S$30,000 to Albert Geow Chwee Hiam.

Geow, who was in 2016 jailed for receiving these bribes, is a director of Island Landscape and Nursery. Sinflora is one of Island Landscape’s suppliers for plants and products.

During the period when Loo gave Geow the bribes, the yearly sales volume from Sinflora to Island Landscape averaged S$373,178.

This was higher compared with the average yearly sales of S$215,411 from 2003 to 2007.

At the trial, Loo denied that there was any corrupt intent behind the giving of the money — it was the defence’s case that the amount was “loaned… because they were friends”.

The defence said during the trial that the two men were family friends of more than 30 years, and this was why Loo was agreeable to lending large sums of money to Geow without expecting repayment.

However, the prosecution argued that this was contrary to the statements Loo gave to investigation officers, in which he said he and Geow had known each other for about 10 to 15 years and were “just okay friends”.

Loo had also told the officers that he did not know much about Geow’s family.

Geow testified in court that his relationship with Loo was that of “buyer and seller”, and that they were not personal friends.

Geow also told the court that he had repaid less than S$2,000 to Loo in 2010.

The prosecution, in its submissions to court, also contended that Loo and his wife stood to gain from the bribes given: Both husband and wife each owned 50 per cent of Sinflora shares.

Loo also knew that Geow “had the authority” to select Sinflora as its supplier.

Court proceedings revealed that Loo never told anyone about the purported loans to Geow.

During the trial, Loo refused to give evidence when called upon by the court.

District Judge Kessler Soh adjourned sentencing to April 5.

For bribing Geow, Loo could be jailed up tp five years and/or fined up to S$100,000 for each charge.

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