Sheng Siong kidnapping: Need to withdraw $2 million? You can if you are the account holder

Withdrawing large amounts of cash from a bank in Singapore is not at all difficult, say people in the banking industry.

However, they noted that it is rare for a customer to withdraw millions of dollars at short notice. Clients usually notify the bank a few days or even weeks in advance to get the cash ready.

This question of how easy it is to withdraw a large amount of cash from the bank arose after Sheng Siong chief executive Lim Hock Chee paid a $2 million ransom to two men who had kidnapped his mother on Jan 8. The men were arrested the next day and charged in court today. Madam Ng Lye Poh was released unhurt.

The Straits Times understands that a request to take out $2 million can be done in a few hours, as long as the customer has the funds in his bank account.

He or she would have to produce his identification card to the teller for verification purposes.

Upon confirmation that he is the rightful account holder and that there is sufficient bank balance, the teller will check internally if there is enough cash at hand to dispense the money.

If the bank branch does not have sufficient cash at hand or bills in the denomination specified by the customer, the teller will advise the customer of two options.

He may go to another branch that has the cash amount or quantity of notes asked for. Or he can wait in the banking hall while the bank arranges for the cash to be delivered from elsewhere.

Bankers say it is unusual for a customer to walk into a bank to withdraw a large amount in cash. Customers who have large amount of money deposited with a bank are usually high net-worth clients. They will be assigned relationship managers or private bankers to service their needs, including processing requests for big cash withdrawals and having the money ready for delivery when the clients turn up at the bank.

$2 million in cash

The police arrested two men on Jan 9 for kidnapping the 79-year-old mother of Sheng Siong supermarket chief executive Lim Hock Chee. The suspects released Madam Ng Lye Poh after her son paid a $2 million ransom in $1,000 notes.

$1,000 notes compared to $2 notes

Since 1967, four series of currency notes have been issued for general circulation. The current series, which features Singapore’s first president, Mr Yusof Ishak, was issued on Sept 9, 1999 to usher in the new millennium.

If $2 million in cash was laid out on the floor,how many basketball courts will be covered? (Click the buttons below to see)

Read more about Singapore's currency notes at the Monetary Authority of Singapore website.

Straits Times Graphic: Lin Zhaowei


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