Ex-business manager jailed for money laundering

A former business development manager, who committed money laundering offences by receiving and transferring stolen money amounting to more than $800,000, was sentenced to four years' jail yesterday .

Ong Kim Chuan, 56, was the sole director of a company, Cera Ina and Co, when he dishonestly received stolen sums of $231,768 and $504,377 on Sept 3 and 11, 2013 respectively, in the company's bank accounts, while having reason to believe the money to be stolen.

He had also admitted to transferring $479,237, being the benefits from criminal conduct, from Cera Ina's OCBC Bank account to one Mr Lim on Sept 12 that year.

Ong, then also Nan Wah Marketing's business development manager, was paid $41,882 as commission for committing the acts, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lai.

In total, he received a sum of US$672,000 (S$850,818) in his four bank accounts, as a result of victims abroad being cheated into transferring money.

Investigations showed that in July 2013, Ong was introduced to one Karim by a friend. Karim was keen to buy sanitary ware for a housing project in Kuwait. He was helped by someone called Angie, who said she was in charge of procurement but claimed she had no bank accounts in Malaysia.

Angie told Ong to receive funds from Karim on her behalf, using his bank accounts, and that he would be given commission of about 4 per cent for each transfer. Ong was supposed to transfer the balance to Angie's assistant, Mr Lim.

DPP Lai said Ong did not know anything about the purported commercial project, nor why the money could not have been transferred to Angie directly.

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 he felt he was being "used" by Angie and Karim to carry out transactions not related to genuine business.

Ong received a total of $850,818 in four bank accounts and transferred $808,936 in cash to Mr Lim over three weeks in August and September that year.

District Judge Low Wee Ping allowed Ong to defer his sentence until Feb 29.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-business manager jailed for money laundering'. Print Edition | Subscribe