Jailed for cheating bank of $2.5m with fake signatures

IN WHAT was literally a cut and paste job, a former private bank relationship manager has been jailed 5 1/2 years for cheating his employer out of $2.5 million by forging clients' signatures.

Yap Chee Yen, 36, formerly of private bank Clariden Leu, made unauthorised fund transfers from two of his clients' accounts between October 2009 and October 2011.

He cut out their signatures from previous records of transfer instructions and pasted them onto new fund transfer instructions that he had prepared earlier.

He next faxed these instructions from one machine in the office to another, to make the documents look as if they had been faxed to him by the clients.

When fund transfers involve large amounts, Yap was supposed to call the clients to confirm the instructions.

For the unauthorised transfers, he signed and acknowledged that he had confirmed the instructions even though he had not done so.

Earlier this year, Yap had pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery and three counts of transferring benefits of criminal conduct.

Another 22 charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Soh Tze Bian, whose written decision was released on the State Courts website last week.

To distance himself from the transfers, Yap used Threesixfive Capital, his British Virgin Islands company, to receive money from the two clients' accounts.

He also used Threesixfive to deposit some of the funds into the accounts of other bank clients to reduce their investment losses.

After factoring amounts that Yap transferred to other bank clients, the net amount transferred to the accounts he controlled was about $1.4 million.

He spent the money on personal expenses including purchases like a luxury watch and a vehicle, and investments in shares.

Yap has returned some of the money but a shortfall of more than $380,000 remained.

The other bank clients who received the money in their accounts through the unauthorised transfers have settled their dispute with the bank.