Dutchman jailed 50 months for having and using fake euros

SINGAPORE - The long arm of the law caught up with a Dutch national, who was given 50 months' jail on Wednesday for having and using fake euro notes in Singapore more than a decade ago.

Travel agent Amarnath Jagmohan, 53, skipped town in May 2003 after he was charged and released on bail. An arrest warrant was issued in November that year when he failed to show up for a pre-trial conference.

He was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago on Jan 30, 2013. He resisted extradition and was eventually brought back here to face the music last June.

He admitted to using fake euros in 50 and 200 denominations to exchange for $8,978 at a moneychanger in Arab Street on May 21, 2003.

He also pleaded guilty to having fake euros in various denominations at Victoria Street the same day.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhamad Imaduddien said Amarnath, who owned a travel agency in the Netherlands, came to Singapore supposedly to meet local operators and see hotels to arrange for tour group packages.

But he had no documents or business cards when he arrived in Singapore on May 21, 2003. He also did not contact or make any appointments with any local tour operators before his arrival.

He was arrested and charged in May that year. He jumped bail and the police later applied for an Interpol red notice to be issued against him.

On Jan 24, 2013, the Commercial Affairs Department was informed by Interpol Port of Spain that Amarnath had entered the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago earlier that day.

He was arrested six days later. Extradition proceedings were successful and he was brought back to Singapore on June 2 last year.

Lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan said his client did not know that the bank notes in question were counterfeit. He had withdrawn the money from his bank and left them in a safe in his office. He claimed that his client's business partner, Rupesh, must have switched the currency he had left in the safe with fake money.

Amarnath, who had his sentence backdated to Jan 30, 2013, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

elena@sph.com.sg