5 years' jail for man who abetted company in receiving more than $4.4m in stolen funds

Ambrose Dionysius, who was a director of Hayashi Construction and Engineering, was convicted of the offences on July 18 after an eight-day trial.
Ambrose Dionysius, who was a director of Hayashi Construction and Engineering, was convicted of the offences on July 18 after an eight-day trial.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A 60-year-old man was sentenced on Friday (Nov 3) to five years' jail after abetting a construction company in receiving more than $4.4 million in stolen cash.

Ambrose Dionysius also committed money laundering when he transported from Singapore to Malaysia cash totalling $400,000 - benefits of his criminal conduct.

In addition, the Singaporean transferred $585,217 of his ill-gotten gains to his Malaysian associate, Ms Song Li Woon.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat said that Dionysius was involved in one of the largest money-laundering cases the courts had seen to date.

Dionysius, who was a director of Hayashi Construction and Engineering, was convicted of the offences on July 18 after an eight-day trial.

District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid found him guilty of two counts each of abetting to receive stolen property, receiving stolen property and physically moving across the Causeway more than $30,000 in cash without giving a report to an authorised officer.

The judge also convicted Dionysius of three counts of transferring and removing from Singapore benefits of his criminal activities.

In his submissions, DPP Leong said that on July 3, 2013, several employees from RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) received an e-mail for a wire transfer instruction purportedly from one of its clients, the National Insurance Property Development Company (Nipdec).

None of RBC's employees noticed that the e-mail they received was not associated with Nipdec.

The court heard that genuine e-mails from Nipdec have the domain @nipdec.com. However, the e-mail RBC received had the domain @nipderc.com

Two days later, the bank received another e-mail with the fake domain, with an amended wire transfer instruction.

RBC did as instructed and remitted €671,856(S$1,095,075) from Nipdec's account to Hayashi Construction's Bank of China account in Singapore which Dionysius controlled.

DPP Leong told Judge Imran: "On July 12, 2013, employing the same modus operandi, the fraudsters deceived RBC into wiring a further sum of €2,031,985 (S$3,322,791) to Hayashi."

RBC reimbursed Nipdec in full after the offences came to light. The bank suffered a loss of some $4 million out of which it was able to recover about $3 million.

The court heard that in an affidavit, Nipdec's general manager stated that the company never had any dealings with Hayashi.

DPP Leong said: "(Dionysius) did not withdraw the entire sum at one go as he knew that by doing so, he would trigger red flags at the bank and the transaction would be flagged for greater scrutiny - money laundering.

"Instead, he chose to make a withdrawal of $400,000 on July 10, 2013, and knowingly conveyed $100,000 out of Singapore that same day in breach of anti-money laundering controls, which require the movement of such sums of monies to be declared."

Dionysius committed similar offences two days later with more money, the court heard.

"It was conceded by the accused that Hayashi Construction would stand to earn a 10 per cent commission for the mere act of allowing its bank account to serve as a conduit for the illicit monies, and that the accused would be entitled to a share of the said commission," said DPP Leong.

However, defence lawyer S. Radakrishnan told the court on Friday that his client did not receive any money from the transactions.

Dionysius, who will be appealing against his conviction and sentence, was offered bail of $250,000.

For each count of receiving stolen property, he could have been jailed for up to five years and fined.