Accounts exec siphoned off $1.7m over 6½ years

Wong Huey Min, who worked for Royal Garment Factory, is appealing against her jail term of 90 months. She forged her boss' signature on cheques and doctored bank statements.
Wong Huey Min, who worked for Royal Garment Factory, is appealing against her jail term of 90 months. She forged her boss' signature on cheques and doctored bank statements.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Over 6½ years, an accounts executive stole nearly $1.7 million from the company she was working for, so that she could pay off her husband's gambling debts.

She forged her boss' signature on cheques, and doctored bank statements by printing out and pasting false numbers on them to cover up her crime.

Yesterday, Wong Huey Min was sentenced to 90 months' jail, after she admitted to 20 of 159 counts of forgery when she was working for Royal Garment Factory (RGF).

She is appealing against her sentence and bail of $250,000 has been granted.

The 56-year-old had been entrusted with the cheque books of RGF and Royal Realty, which was owned by RGF managing director Heng Yang How, according to the prosecution.

Whenever Mr Heng needed to issue cheques, Wong would fill in the necessary details before Mr Heng signed them. Between 2009 and 2015, she forged Mr Heng's signature on the cheques, and issued them to herself or her husband.

These forged cheques would be deposited by Wong or an unsuspecting colleague into bank accounts, or withdrawn in cash by Wong.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi said Wong managed to evade detection because she was the main person in charge of RGF from 2010 onwards, and was trusted fully to handle its finances.

When the bank accounts which the forged cheques were drawn on became low on funds due to her criminal activities, Wong would make deposits into the accounts to prolong her offending behaviour.

When Mr Heng asked to view the accounts, Wong would tell him that everything was under control and that he need not worry about it.

In 2013, the bank statements of the affected accounts were inconsistent with their respective company accounts. To achieve consistency, Wong forged the bank statements. She typed certain figures in her computer, printed them out, and pasted them on the original bank statements, before photocopying the forged documents for RGF's record.

In all, she siphoned $1.67 million over six years and four months. She used the money mostly to pay off her husband's gambling debts.

No restitution has been made.

The prosecution had sought a jail sentence of at least 96 months, citing aggravating factors such as the high level of trust placed in Wong, the long period of offending and the substantial amount involved.

Agreeing that there were several aggravating factors, District Judge Wong Li Tein said the breach of trust had resulted in serious losses.

She added that in this case, Wong was systematic, persistent, very clear-minded and deliberate as she was able to cover up her wrongdoing.

Wong, represented by Ms Diana Ngiam, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined on each charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Accounts exec siphoned off $1.7m over 61/2 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe