Ex-AIA agent pleads guilty again in insurance scam case

Low, who pleaded guilty yesterday to five charges of fraud and cheating, retracted her first guilty plea in June 2014. The saga began in 2002, when businessman Ong Han Ling was allegedly sold a fake US$5.06 million AIA Thank You insurance policy by L
Low, who pleaded guilty yesterday to five charges of fraud and cheating, retracted her first guilty plea in June 2014. The saga began in 2002, when businessman Ong Han Ling was allegedly sold a fake US$5.06 million AIA Thank You insurance policy by Low.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Former AIA insurance agent Sally Low pleaded guilty yesterday to five charges of fraud and cheating, including using forged documents to dupe a businessman into buying a fake US$5.06 million (S$6.9 million) AIA Thank You insurance policy in 2002.

This is the second time she has pleaded guilty as she retracted her first guilty plea in June 2014.

Low, 40, faced a total of 21 charges - four for cheating, 11 for fraudulent use of forged documents, four that are under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, one theft of gooseberries and an attempted suicide in 2012.

Yesterday, she pleaded guilty to three charges of cheating, one charge of fraudulent use of forged documents and one of moving crime proceeds to a bank account in Hong Kong. The other 16 charges were taken into consideration. The sentencing is likely to be later this month. Low remains on bail.

The long-awaited criminal trial started last Monday and on the third day, Low's sixth lawyer, Mr Adrian Wee of Characterist LLC, discharged himself from representing her as she had made an allegation against him.

 
 
 

Representing her yesterday was Mr Sunil Sudheesan of Quahe Woo & Palmer LLC. He and his uncle, the late Mr Subhas Anandan, had previously acted for her on the same case.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi highlighted in his statement of facts that a forensic scientist had opined that it was unlikely that Low's customer, Mr Ong Han Ling, 78, was the writer of the signatures in the insurance application form which Low submitted to AIA.

The saga has seen many twists and turns since The Straits Times broke the story six years ago.

It began in late 2002, when Mr Ong was allegedly sold a fake policy by Low, then an AIA agent. He and his wife were told by Low that they would receive guaranteed annual fixed returns of 6 per cent and 7.5 per cent on the US dollar and Singdollar components of the plan.

Mr Ong claimed that after he remitted the premium, Low, without his knowledge or consent, used the funds to buy four AIA policies for him, his wife and their daughter.

He alleged that midway through the tenure of the AIA Thank You policy, Low deceived him into giving the insurance proceeds from three of the unauthorised policies to her by use of fabricated computer errors. Her scheme came to light in 2008 after Mr Ong learnt from AIA that the Thank You policy was bogus.

The insurer made a police report against Low and sacked her in December 2009. Mr Ong made a police report against Low in January 2010 for allegedly cheating him of money. He sued her for damages totalling US$2.25 million and $2.99 million.

In May 2011, she was charged with 19 criminal offences, including cheating the Ongs, using forged documents and money laundering.

In December 2013, Low pleaded guilty to two charges of cheating, one charge of fraudulent use of forged documents and one charge of moving crime proceeds to a bank account in Hong Kong, with the other 15 charges taken into consideration.

She retracted her guilty plea six months later. Low also claimed she was a victim of a ploy with Mr Ong to cheat AIA instead.

Low, who was made bankrupt by her previous set of lawyers, had her sentencing date postponed several times. She had previously admitted herself to the Institute of Mental Health but was certified fit to plead and stand trial.

Meanwhile, the Ongs are suing AIA and Motion Insurance Agency for negligence and lack of care. AIA is alleging that the Ongs are in a conspiracy with Low to defraud AIA and has asked Low to be its witness.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-AIA agent pleads guilty again in insurance scam case'. Print Edition | Subscribe