SINGAPORE: An eye surgeon was fined a total of S$32,000 on Wednesday for concealing payments he received that amounted to almost S$446,000.
In February 2001, Marc Tay Tze-Hsin's clinic, Tay Eye Surgery, was acquired by Pacific Healthcare Holdings Pte Ltd.
The clinic was renamed as Pacific Healthcare Specialist Services Pte Ltd (PHSS) and Tay was appointed as a director.
In April 2001, Tay was made a consultant.
Three years later, he entered into a three-year agreement with PHSS, under which he is required to hand over all monies he earned to the company.
Between December 2005 and December 2006, the 53-year-old did not inform PHSS that he was being paid by The Lasik Surgery Clinic (LSC) for services he had rendered.
Tay admitted to 11 charges relating to this.
He was also convicted of a 12th charge for not disclosing interests in transactions, property and offices under the Companies Act.
The prosecution proceeded on four charges.
In his submissions, prosecutor Kung Yong Jin noted that Tay had made restitution of S$376,000 in February 2009 and asked for a heavy fine.
Tay's lawyer Lee Teck Leng said in mitigation that all the monies received were for Lasik surgeries that Tay had performed at the LSC, and were thus not "undeservingly retained".
This, he argued, was "essentially a civil case involving a breach of consultancy contract", which turned into a criminal case.
He added that the reason Tay joined Pacific Healthcare Holdings was that the firm had promised to acquire a Lasik machine so that he could specialise in Lasik surgeries.
However, this promise was not delivered, the defence said, and this caused Tay to feel cheated.
The defence added that under the terms of the agreement, he would have been entitled to part of the Lasik fees he misappropriated, in any event.
During sentencing, Chief District Judge See Kee Oon noted that the facts in this case are "highly unusual".
He said that while the amount that was concealed from PHSS was significant, it cannot be viewed in isolation from other relevant circumstances in this case.
The judge noted that Tay had made full restitution to PHSS shortly after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau started investigations into the case.
The judge decided to impose the maximum fine of S$10,000 for each of the three misappropriation charges and S$2,000 for the charge under the Companies Act.
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