SINGAPORE: An officer in the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) allegedly advised a construction business to lower its price quotations for mosque upgrading works, in exchange for him receiving shares in a travel company.

Abdul Rahim Mawasi is accused of helping the business, Zeal-Con Engineering, to be awarded two construction jobs at mosques.

Rahim, 57, and Zeal-Con’s director Mohd Mustaqim Kam @ Kam Hock Beng, 65, went on trial on Tuesday (Apr 2) to contest one charge of corruption each.

The awarded jobs were for the construction of a shelter and upgrading works at Darul Aman Mosque at Jalan Eunos in 2018, and upgrading works at Sallim Mattar Mosque at Mattar Road in 2019.

Rahim was the executive chairman of the two mosques at the time. He was also an officer in MUIS, which administers all mosques in Singapore, according to Deputy Public Prosecutors Leong Kit Yu and Yap Jia Jun.

The prosecution’s case is that in July 2018, Rahim proposed starting a travel business with Kam, who agreed. The two men allegedly agreed that Rahim need not contribute to the business’ paid-up capital.

Instead, Rahim would help Zeal-Con obtain construction jobs from mosques he was in charge of, and Kam would apply the profits from these jobs towards the paid-up capital, prosecutors argued.

After being awarded the two construction jobs, Kam allegedly applied some profits towards the paid-up capital of the travel business, Amal Travel & Tour.

Rahim is suspected of receiving 25,000 shares in Amal Travel & Tour from Kam in November 2019, as a reward for his advice on lowering the price quotations. These shares were purportedly held by Rahim’s son.

“Kam will claim that there was no corrupt intent behind the giving of shares in Amal to Rahim, and that Rahim had not advised him to lower the price of Zeal-Con’s quotes for the works,” said prosecutors.

“Rahim will claim that he did not obtain gratification in the form of shares in Amal, and that the works were awarded to Zeal-Con following proper procurement procedures.”

But these defences will be contradicted by statements that Rahim and Kam gave to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), as well as the evidence of witnesses, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors will call to the stand Rahim’s son and a staff member, whom Rahim allegedly instructed to deny knowledge of Amal and delete conversations with him.

They will also call four witnesses – all of whom were staff of the two mosques at the time – to give evidence on Rahim’s alleged intervention in the procurement and awarding of the construction jobs.

CNA has contacted MUIS for more information. The case continues with both men returning to court on Wednesday.

The punishment for corruptly obtaining or giving gratification is up to five years in jail, a fine of up to S$100,000, or both.

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