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Ex-SPH Exec Peter Khoo Plans To Plead Guilty (BT)

BackJul 11, 2012

Former Singapore Press Holdings senior executive Peter Khoo Chong Meng, who is accused of stealing shopping vouchers and taking kickbacks, intends to plead guilty but wants more clarification from prosecutors on the charges against him first.

His lawyer, Alfonso Ang of A Ang, Seah & Hoe, yesterday asked in court for a criminal case management scheme to be held with prosecutors to clarify particulars of the charges that Khoo faces under the Prevention of Corruption Act as well as the wording of charges for offences under criminal breach of trust.

"Notwithstanding the accused's desire to plead guilty as soon as possible, it is imperative that we ensure that all things are in order so that his plea can be properly taken and the mitigation plea given without any dispute," Mr Ang said.

Once the issues are resolved, he will ask for a court date for Khoo to enter his plea. Khoo's next hearing is on Aug 7.

"For the record, the accused had always intended to plead guilty since the day he confessed," Mr Ang said.

Khoo, 49, who was senior vice-president of SPH's English and Malay newspapers division and head of its editorial projects unit, faces eight counts of corruption and two counts of criminal breach of trust.

Mr Ang said yesterday that Khoo had accepted the prosecutors' offer to proceed with three charges in total.

Specifically, Khoo accepted the prosecutors' offer to reduce the two charges of criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant to just criminal breach of trust, which carries a lower penalty. He agreed to be charged on one of the amended counts of CBT and have the other charge taken into consideration for sentencing.

Khoo also agreed to be charged on two counts of corruption and have the remaining six charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

He was accused of "corruptly" obtaining bribes totalling $83,500 on eight occasions between July 2006 and August 2010 from Liaw Kim Chew "as a reward" for awarding Liaw business deals.

On one occasion, Khoo received $30,000 for awarding Mr Liaw the business deal of supplying 100,000 coin banks to the Editorial Projects Unit.

In addition, he was also accused of misappropriating two CapitaLand vouchers, valued at $11,547 and $11,548 on two occasions. The shopping vouchers were meant as gifts to contest winners and readers as part of The Straits Times' branding and marketing activities.

Khoo was organising chairman of the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, and coordinated events and activities to raise donations for the newspaper's charity.

Khoo, who was with SPH for 22 years and was sacked in September 2010, has since made restitution of $196,500. He was arrested the day after he was sacked and is out on an extended bail of $115,000.

If convicted for corruption, Khoo could be jailed up to five years or fined a maximum of $100,000 or both, on each charge. If convicted for criminal breach of trust under Section 406 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224, he could be jailed for up to seven years, or fined, or both.