Man jailed two years for money-laundering offences

SINGAPORE - A 50-year-old man who helped to launder stolen funds after befriending a "woman" on an online dating website, was jailed for two years on Wednesday.

Chua Kok Hin, a former assistant project manager of a private company, had received stolen money amounting to almost $500,000 and moved them out of Singapore.

Chua, who faced 17 charges, admitted to five counts under the Penal Code and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

The total amount he received for all the charges was $473,040. He kept $7,040 which he later surrendered to the Commercial Affairs Department.

A district court heard that in April 2012, he befriended one unknown "woman" going by the name Rosina Carr through an online dating website. They started chatting actively over the Internet but had never met in person. About a month later, Rosina told him to open a bank account in Singapore to help her receive an overseas transfer of funds for her business in Malaysia.

Even though she had no answer when he asked why she could not send the money through proper channels, he agreed to open an OCBC account on May 7 that year after providing false information about himself to the bank.

On June 21 that year, a sum of $75,707 was fraudulently transferred from Ms Susan Price Hollern's bank account in the United States to Chua's OCBC account. The 51-year-old reported to the police in January in 2013 that her e-mail account was hacked and that US$60,000 was transferred to an OCBC account in Singapore when she had no dealings with anyone here.

The same day, Chua was instructed by Rosina to withdraw $72,000 from the account and deposit the money into a bank account in Malaysia. He did this by travelling pillion on a co-worker's motorcycle and deposited the money in Hong Leong Bank in Johor Baru. Four days later, Chua received $279,125 which was fraudulently transferred from Talya Investment Ltd's account into his bank account, despite having reason to believe the funds to be stolen property.

As instructed by Rosina, he deposited $150,000 into a bank account in Malaysia through his accomplice and colleague Ngo Soon Kiong, 35, a Malaysian. Chua was also instructed by Rosina to deposit $115,000 into three bank account owners in Malaysia. This was again done through Ngo.

His lawyer Vinit Chhabra said Chua did not financially benefit from what he did. He regretted that he allowed himself to be manipulated by the person who claimed to be a woman, he said. Chua is married with three grown children.