A former airport worker has been jailed for two weeks in Singapore for accepting at least six packs of cigarettes as a bribe to waive excess baggage fees. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said Haris Bin Mohammad Ali would have to “pay a heavy price” for a crime that they claim could have resulted in serious and far reaching consequences.
Ali worked as a customer service associate for a ground-handling company at Singapore’s world-famous Changi airport when he allegedly accepted bribes between April and May 2018.
He worked on the check-in counters for low-cost carrier Scoot Airways and was responsbile for weighing baggage and inputting the weight into the check-in computer. The weight of customer baggage was used to help the pilots calculate how much fuel they needed for the flight.
Scoot currently offers a checked baggage allowance of just 20kg for customers who purchase mid-range ticket types. If customer baggage weighed more than what was permitted, Ali was expected to tell customers to either repack to reduce the weight or pay an excess baggage fee.
Instead, prosecutors allege Ali accepted six packets of cigarettes worth just S$66 as an award to under-report baggage weight for a number of passengers. As well as being imprisoned, Ali has also been ordered to pay back the cost of the cigarettes.
Three other check-in agents were jailed in 2019 for between seven and nine weeks as part of the investigation into excess baggage corruption at Scoot’s check-in counters. A fourth suspect who was accused of paying S$800 in bribes to one of the check-in workers was also sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment.
“Corrupt practices of such nature will tarnish the reputation of Singapore’s Changi Airport, and more importantly, undermine air travel safety,” a statement from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau explained.
“Singapore adopts a strict zero-tolerance approach towards corruption and corrupt offenders will have to bear the full brunt of the law. Any person who is convicted of a corruption offence can be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to 5 years or to both,” the statement continued.
Neither the ground handling company or Scoot immediately commented on the case.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.