Accounts clerk forged cheques to embezzle $1.09m

With an erasable pen, an accounts clerk regularly forged cheques at her company, and siphoned away a total of $1.09 million for herself.

For 4½ years, Mariam Ahmad, 58, would prepare fake cheques for her company, LH Car Rental, using an erasable pen.

After getting her boss, Mr Law Kok Leng, to sign off on them, she would then erase the names of the payees and put her own name instead in permanent ink.

But Mariam was eventually caught when the bank alerted her boss of an incomplete cheque which had her name on it.

Yesterday, she was jailed for eight years and 10 months after she pleaded guilty to 30 charges of forgery and concealing the benefits of her criminal conduct. Another 277 related charges were taken into account.

The court heard that Mariam hatched her plan to prepare fake cheques soon after she started work at the company in April 2010.

She carried out her first forgery in January the next year, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim.

She would deposit the cheques into her own Maybank account and would occasionally transfer money over to her daughter's account, said DPP Lim.

Mariam, who is divorced, used her ill-gotten gains to pay her bills, rent three cars from the company, go on family vacations, buy furniture and give an allowance to her two daughters. She also bought gold jewellery and 4-D tickets.

In August 2015, the bank alerted Mr Law to a cheque with Mariam's name that had not been filled properly. He checked the company's accounts and discovered Mariam's transgressions, said DPP Lim.

No restitution has been made, and all the money has "dissipated", he added, noting that Mariam had less than $50 in her bank accounts. There was no money in her daughter's account.

DPP Lim called for Mariam to be jailed for eight years and six months. Mariam, who was unrepresented, pleaded for leniency.

But District Judge Terence Tay dismissed her pleas and raised the proposed sentence by another four months. On top of all her aggravating factors, she had spent the money on non-necessities, he noted.

For forging the bank cheques, Mariam could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Accounts clerk forged cheques to embezzle $1.09m'. Print Edition | Subscribe