Employee sold wine firm's goods illegally for $7m

A former relationship manager at one of Singapore's top wine and spirit companies yesterday admitted to unlawfully selling almost 15,000 bottles for $7 million - all so she could pay off loan sharks.

Luciana Lim Ying Ying, 43, was convicted on four charges - criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of a property, assisting an unlicensed moneylender, and using the benefits from criminal conduct.

Seven other charges will be considered during sentencing.

Lim committed the offences over 18 months, between June 2011 and January 2013, while working for Hock Tong Bee, one of the oldest and largest independent wine and spirit companies in Singapore.

Her job involved finding and liaising with customers. She said she needed the money to repay loan sharks who were harrassing her as she had agreed to stand as a guarantor for a former colleague.

In March 2013, a manager at the company noticed that large sums of money were outstanding from high net-worth clients whom Lim was servicing. Yet, the goods were being released to them without the company's knowledge.

He made a police report and three days later, she surrendered to the authorities.

The court yesterday heard that Lim's modus operandi was to register fake clients, and place orders for expensive wines and spirits.

In order to register these bogus clients, she sourced their names, addresses and contact numbers using old name cards. She also used the Internet to look for the personal details of doctors and lawyers.

Lim would offer to sell her company's goods to actual clients at lower prices, telling them she got the bottles at a staff discount, or that she had a customer who wanted to release wines cheaply.

She would then tell her company's warehouse to send the goods to the buyers' addresses.

Eventually, Lim was banned from conducting further sales by her company, as the total amount of outstanding payments from her fake clients was too large. But she continued to unlawfully obtain her company's goods using the credit card details of existing clients.

The prosecution asked that Lim be jailed for 13 years. She is expected to be sentenced next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Employee sold wine firm's goods illegally for $7m'. Print Edition | Subscribe