42 months' jail for former UOB relationship manager who misappropriated over $200k

Yap Bin Chun was sentenced to three years and six months' jail after pleading guilty in January to four cheating charges and one count of forgery. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A United Overseas Bank (UOB) relationship manager misappropriated more than $200,000 from his client and cheated his then girlfriend of over HK$100,000 (S$20,000) after leaving the company.

Yap Bin Chun, 38, who worked for the bank from 2009 to 2013, was sentenced on Friday (April 12) to three years and six months' jail after pleading guilty in January to four cheating charges and one count of forgery.

He met his client, Mr Ng Hock Seng, 68, who is unable to read or write in English, in 2010.

Mr Ng, who used to run a minimart in Hougang, told Yap in 2011 that he wanted to use his savings for a low-risk investment.

Yap, facing financial difficulties, went to Mr Ng's home in September that year with a plan to misappropriate the Singaporean's money.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said: "During this meeting, the accused also asked Ng to sign an application form for a UOB current account, as well as an application form for a UOB debit Visa card which was to be linked to the current account.

"The accused did not tell Ng what the forms were for. Although Ng did not understand the forms, he signed, as he was asked to."

Yap later wrote his own home address on the current account opening form without Mr Ng's knowledge.

He also wrote the same address on the debit card application form, and the card was mailed to Yap's home on Sept 13, 2011.

Monies linked to Mr Ng's investment were later credited into the current account.

Between Oct 3 that year and March 20, 2012, Yap misappropriated more than $200,000 from the account by using the debit card.

The offences came to light only on Feb 24, 2016, when Mr Ng went to UOB to check on the status of his finances.

He lodged a police report five days later.

After investigating, UOB later paid him more than $200,000 as a settlement for the losses he suffered.

On June 6, 2016, the Commercial Affairs Department recorded a statement from Yap, who eventually repaid the amount to the bank.

The court also heard that Yap cheated Hong Konger Betty Pui Tai, 38, of more than HK$100,000.

Yap, who is married with three children, had duped the woman into thinking he was single, and she became his girlfriend from October 2015.

DPP Chin said Yap had borrowed about $500,000 from her that he had not repaid.

Yap, who met Ms Pui when he worked in Hong Kong after leaving UOB, had also told her about the case involving Mr Ng.

In December 2016, Yap, posing as his brother, sent her a message to say $20,000 was needed for his "bail".

DPP Chin said this was untrue, as Yap was never in remand prison.

Ms Pui believed the lies and transferred the equivalent, about HK$100,000, over later that month.

The relationship ended in June 2017 after she discovered his marital status.

Yap is represented by lawyers Sunil Sudheesan and Diana Ngiam who pleaded for their client to be given a sentence of "less than 30 months" in jail.

In their mitigation plea, they said Yap had cheated Mr Ng out of desperation, as he had to repay unlicensed moneylenders who were then harassing him.

UOB had said in a statement that it does not tolerate any employee's breach of its code of conduct, which is "values-based and sets the requirement for all to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards".

The bank's spokesman added that any UOB employee who does not comply with the code faces disciplinary action.

Yap is out on bail of $55,000 and will surrender himself at the State Courts on April 26 to begin serving his sentence.

For each count of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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