Duo jailed over attempt to cheat firm out of $3.6m

He fled to Thailand with nearly $1 million after defrauding a company in 2012. But 11/2 years later, Tan Yong Hai was back, using a fake identity to try and cheat another firm out of $3.6 million.
He fled to Thailand with nearly $1 million after defrauding a company in 2012. But 11/2 years later, Tan Yong Hai was back, using a fake identity to try and cheat another firm out of $3.6 million.PHOTO: ST FILE

HE FLED to Thailand with nearly $1 million after defrauding a company in 2012. But 11/2 years later, Tan Yong Hai was back, using a fake identity to try and cheat another firm out of $3.6 million.

The plot failed, and Tan, 31, was yesterday jailed for nine years and three months after pleading guilty to eight charges involving forgery, false representation and removing property from Singapore. Thirteen other charges were taken into consideration.

Tan roped in his former schoolmate, Lau Tien Chen, also 31, and made use of his name and bank account to deposit a forged Maybank cheque for nearly $2 million, as well as two doctored United Overseas Bank cheques totalling $1.6 million.

The accomplice was yesterday sentenced to six years in jail for using forged cheques as genuine ones.

Lau had withdrawn $202,000 and given it to Tan, but was arrested when he went to withdraw $1.4 million from his Standard Chartered Bank account at the bank's Battery Road office.

Tan was nabbed at Changi Airport when he tried to leave for Thailand.

The duo pleaded guilty last month.

The court heard that when Tan was a facility executive with Sodexo Singapore, he forged nine lease agreements. He also cheated Invensys Process System, where he was attached, of $1.42 million over a two-year period.

He named his relatives and friends as landlords and deceived Invensys into paying rents for fictitious units at a Tanah Merah condominium to house expatriate engineers working here.

When he realised his forgeries were being investigated, he began to forge company cheques. Before leaving for Bangkok on Feb 28, 2012, he hid $950,000 in books in his luggage.

In Bangkok, he asked Lau to help him get a job as an accounts assistant.

He returned to Singapore in August 2013 and lied in his disembarkation/ embarkation card that he had never used a passport under a different name to enter Singapore.

As an accounts assistant at SoilBuild Group Holdings, he persuaded Lau to help him with his plan to "loot" money from the firm and go to Thailand for a "good life". Tan subsequently made a cheque of $1.99 million in favour of Lau by forging signatures from SoilBuild subsidiary SB Procurement.

Maybank did not honour the cheque after SoilBuild confirmed the forgery. By then, Tan was missing from work.

elena@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'Duo jailed over attempt to cheat firm out of $3.6m'. Print Edition | Subscribe