An Indian-origin Singaporean, who was working as an inspection officer with a public housing authority, was on Monday sentenced to 25 days in prison for alerting an Indian tenant about impending inspections to check overcrowding in his flat.
Kalayarasan Karuppaya, 55, who has been suspended from his duties with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) since January 25 last year, pleaded guilty on Monday to two charges of violating the Official Secrets Act by communicating information about the upcoming inspection to Damandeep Singh about his rented unit.
The accused was not authorised to release the information to the 22-year-old Indian national, Channel News Asia reported.
The court heard on Monday that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore (CPIB) had received information on January 9 last year relating to Kalayarasan providing Damandeep with information about the impending inspection of the HDB flat (apartment) on several occasions in 2019.
As an investigation officer with the rank of higher estate executive, Kalayarasan’s work involved conducting investigations into subletting and occupancy related infringements in HDB estates, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min.
These included offences such as unauthorised subletting of HDB units, overcrowding and the misuse of units for vice or other illegal activities.
As part of his investigations, the accused would be involved in conducting surprise inspections at units identified in feedback and complaints from members of the public as well as the Singapore Police Force, said Mr Thiam.
The accused was aware that information regarding such surprise inspections was confidential information which he was not allowed to share with others, including the owners and tenants of these units.
Together with five others, Damandeep was a registered tenant in the unit in question, Mr Thiam said, noting the maximum number of people allowed to stay in the unit is six.
Any breach of this condition might potentially result in a debarment of unauthorised tenants from renting HDB units for a fixed period and the unit owner from renting out the unit.
A total of about 12 to 13 people were staying in the flat at any one point, she noted, adding that Kalayarasan was not aware of these facts at the time.
The HDB had received a complaint about suspected overcrowding in the flat where Damandeep was a registered tenant. The police also found the unit overcrowded on two visits on August 24 and September 4, 2019, with 19 and 18 occupants on each occasion respectively.
“Investigations revealed that at all material times, Damandeep and some of the other registered tenants illegally sublet the unit to more tenants, in breach of the HDB rules.
“The purpose of this was so that the illegal subtenants could bear some of the cost of the monthly rental of the unit. They collected about Singapore Dollar 200 (USD 148) monthly from each illegal subtenant,” Mr Thiam added.
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