2 ex-employees of food distributor fined $24k each over graft charges

SINGAPORE – A warehouse supervisor for food distributing firm Sonnamera received bribes totalling around $6,800 from a director of a company that offered manpower contracting services.

Maheswaran M. Ratinasavapathy accepted the money from Mr Hema Suthan Nair Achuthannayar, 26, in exchange for recommending the latter’s firm to Sonnamera for the provision of manpower services, said the prosecution.

Maheswaran also gave his then colleague Renitha Muraleedharan her share of commissions, totalling around $3,400, from Mr Hema.

At the time of the offences, Renitha was an account/administrative executive at Sonnamera, while Mr Hema worked for Inspiro.

On Thursday, Maheswaran, 27 and Renitha, 31, who no longer work for Sonnamera, each pleaded guilty to three graft charges.

They were then fined $24,000 each.

Maheswaran, who has repaid $2,600 to Sonnamera, was also ordered to pay a penalty of $829.

Renitha, who has not repaid the firm, must pay a penalty of $3,379.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim said that Mr Hema, who left for Malaysia in March 2020 before the Covid-19 circuit breaker was imposed, is still at large.

Sonnamera imports food products from other countries and distributes them to local supermarkets, DPP Lim told the court. It also exports products under its own brand to food distributors in other countries.

At the time of the offences, Maheswaran was in charge of managing the inventory of food products delivered to Sonnamera’s warehouse, while Renitha’s tasks included managing the accounts receivable in the finance department.

In June 2019, Maheswaran met Mr Hema at the Woodlands Checkpoint.

The prosecutor said: “Mr Hema asked Mahes if he could recommend his company to Sonnamera to provide manpower and offered to give Mahes an unspecified sum as commission in return for recommending his company, Inspiro, to supply workers to Sonnamera.

“In July 2019, Mahes shared with Renitha his plans to recommend Mr Hema’s company to supply manpower to Sonnamera.”


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