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 Former navy officer gets 21 months in jail for corruption

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Join date : 2009-10-04
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PostSubject: Former navy officer gets 21 months in jail for corruption   Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:37 am

SINGAPORE : He was a specialist in the Navy’s coastal surveillance unit whose task was to monitor Singapore’s waters.

But instead of looking out for suspicious vessels, Gavin Bertram Lazaroo did the reverse.

On several occasions between May 2006 and June 2007, Lazaroo — armed with a pair of binoculars — scanned the waters for craft belonging to the Navy or Coast Guard, and allowed a speedboat to smuggle contraband cigarettes into Singapore.

Lazaroo, a former coast surveillance officer, would be paid sums of between $2,400 and $3,500 for his help each time.

Yesterday, Lazaroo pleaded guilty to three charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Five other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

For receiving money to help smuggle 17,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes from Batam island, Lazaroo was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment by a district court.

He was also ordered made to pay a penalty of $12,600 — the total amount of gratification he received — or serve an additional 10 weeks jail in default.

The court heard that Lazaroo, 31, met Norazmi Sawodi at a Geylang coffeeshop and introduced himself as a Navy officer.

Norazmi noticed Lazaroo was smoking contraband cigarettes and asked for his help to bring them in from Batam island in return for money.

Lazaroo agreed.

Another smuggler Mazlan Musa would get his Batam supplier to ready the goods, while asking Norazmi to get a lorry and wait at an unloading point in Singapore.

Lazaroo’s role was to keep a lookout for patrol vessels while the Indonesian speedboat carrying the cigarettes made its way to the beaching point.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Kwek Chin Yong, Lazaroo did not seek help from his colleagues at the surveillance unit to help the speedboat enter Singapore waters without detection.

But Mazlan, Mr Kwek added, had the impression that Lazaroo had a part to play in the goods’ safe passage to Singapore.

After the cigarettes were unloaded, the trio would meet to split up the proceeds.

In addition, Lazaroo also received "gate money" as a reward for helping the goods reach Singapore without detection.

The court was not told how Lazaroo was arrested.

Lazaroo’s lawyer, Ravinderpal Singh, told the court that his client did not use his position as a Navy officer to help him, but only used a pair of binoculars to scan the waters.

"As the accused never used his office to do anything, there can be no issue of national security being threatened or compromised," said Mr Singh.

However, Mr Kwek disagreed, saying the speedboats could have been carrying more dangerous goods such as firearms or illegal drugs. — TODAY

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