Indian-origin jail warden fined Rs 83 lakh for taking bribe from Singapore prisoner


A senior Indian-origin prison warden was convicted on Monday for demanding a bribe of SGD 133,000 (Rs 83,02,930) in exchange for transferring a prisoner out of jail.

Kobi Krishna Ayavu, 56, was also found guilty of inciting his colleagues to access the prison system to view prisoner information, Channel News Asia reported.

He will return to court for sentencing in January.

Coby had fought 10 charges, mostly of soliciting a bribe from an inmate named Chong Keng Chye, but he was convicted on all of them.

The prosecution had argued that Kobi had solicited bribes from Chong between September 2015 and March 2016. These were for reasons including car loan installments, home renovation, birthday celebrations and payment of credit card bills.

Chong was sentenced to 20 years of preventive detention in 2005 for abusing his girlfriend’s son until the seven-year-old boy died.

He was held in Changi Prison’s A1 cluster, a maximum security prison for criminals serving long sentences.

Chong testified that Kobi promised to help him obtain a transfer from A1 in exchange for lending money or giving Kobi cash.

Chong said he knew Coby did not have the ability or authority to help him transfer out of A1. However, Coby said he had a friend who was an intelligence officer who could help Chong.

Kobi got a friend to meet Chong, but even after a medical review in early 2016, Chong was not transferred.

When the prison officer asked him to give the money to his friends or family, he rejected Kobi and complained that he had not been transferred.

In his defense, Coby denied asking Chong for money on any of the eight occasions. He claimed that he spoke to Chong only during yard time, when there were always prisoners within hearing distance.

Kobi alleged that Chong had lied to get transferred out of the A1. When charges are filed against a prison officer, the officer or prisoner will be transferred.

Chong had written down the details on a journal in his cell whenever Kobi asked him for money. When they received a new magazine, they would make a copy of its records before discarding the old one.

In June 2016, before his stay at Changi Medical Centre, Chong copied the latest version of his records from paper torn from a novel in his cell.

The document included a bank number and a phone number provided to him by Kobi.

Chong explained that she decided to report Kobi using this document because she feared Kobi would “make trouble” for her after she returned to prison after surgery and Kobi failed to hand over the money she asked for. .

A fellow inmate also testified how Chong had told him about giving money to a prison employee in exchange for help. After Kobi was accused of soliciting bribes from Chong, his employment with the Singapore Prison Service was suspended and he no longer had access to the prison system, which contained information about prisoners.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Magdalene Huang said Kobi took “great pains” to pretend at trial that he had no financial problems.

Kobi had been suspended since July 2017 and was receiving almost half his salary – SGD2,000 per month. According to the channel report, this continued till December 2022, when he reached retirement.

He said that an innocent man would want the proceedings to be expedited so that his name can be cleared quickly, but Kobi instead delayed the court proceedings.

For example, he chose to undergo a non-emergency surgery just days before the trial began in September 2018.

He was hospitalized for a fracture before the new testing dates in January 2019, and he went for a COVID-19 swab test the day before the testing dates in September 2020.

He then reported ill at the entrance of the State Courts in February 2021 and went to a private clinic, where he underwent a swab test which later turned out to be negative. He was admitted to the hospital in April 2021 complaining of fainting and was again sent for another swab test in September 2021, claiming to be coughing and sneezing.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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