Ex-business development manager gets four years' jail for money laundering offences

Ong Kim Chuan, 56, had admitted to two charges of dishonestly receiving property and received 48 months' jail.
Ong Kim Chuan, 56, had admitted to two charges of dishonestly receiving property and received 48 months' jail.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A former business development manager, who received stolen money amounting to more than $800,000 in his bank accounts and transferred it to someone was sentenced to 48 months' jail on Monday (Feb 22).

Ong Kim Chuan, 56, had admitted to two charges of dishonestly receiving property, while having reason to believe it was stolen, when he was a director and signatory of Cera Ina and Co.

He also admitted to one charge of transferring property which represented his benefits from criminal conduct in September 2013. Five other charges were considered during his sentencing.

Besides his own company, Cera Ina, he was working as a business development manager at Nan Wah Marketing, then a dealer in sanitary ware, taps, pipe fittings and toilet accessories.

A district court heard that in July 2013, Ong was introduced to one Karim through his friend and business partner, Mr David Cheng.

He told police that Karim had held himself to be a businessman who was keen to buy sanitary ware for a housing project in Kuwait. Karim was helped by someone called Angie who said she was in charge of procurement matters, but claimed she did not have bank accounts in Malaysia.

So, Angie told Ong to receive funds from Karim on her behalf using his bank accounts in Singapore. He was promised a 4 per cent commission for each transfer.

Ong was supposed to transfer the balance in cash to Angie's assistant, a Mr Lim, who would in turn pass the cash to her.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lai said Ong had no details of the purported commercial project, did not know why the money could not have been transferred to Angie directly. He also did he ask her to explain.

Ong had told police that the supposed business transactions pertaining to the receipt and transfer of funds that Angie had asked him to perform were not "legitimate" and "not clean".

He also admitted that he felt that he was being "used as a scapegoat" by Angie and Karim to carry out transactions that were not related to genuine business.

Despite this, he received a total of $850,818 into four bank accounts and transferred $808,936 in cash to Mr Lim between Aug 22 and Sept 12 that year.

He kept $41,881 as his commission for his personal benefit.

The court heard that his friend warned him in an email not to receive funds from Angie as they appeared to be suspicious and was not how a usual business should be conducted. But he ignored this warning.

He admitted in his statements that Angie's instructions to use different accounts to receive the funds each time was "fishy''. He knew little about Angie but still proceeded to transfer funds on her behalf to Mr Lim. Neither Angie nor Mr Lim could be traced.

Ong, who will start serving his sentence next Monday, could have been jailed for up to five years and fined for receiving stolen property. For transferring property representing his benefits from criminal conduct, the maximum penalty is a $500,000 fine and 10 years' jail.