Bank exec cheated client who cannot read English

Yap Bin Chun misappropriated over $200,000 from his client after getting him to sign various forms.
Yap Bin Chun misappropriated over $200,000 from his client after getting him to sign various forms.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A United Overseas Bank (UOB) relationship manager abused his English-illiterate client's trust and misappropriated more than $200,000 from the man after convincing him to sign various forms.

Yap Bin Chun, who worked for the bank from 2009 to 2013, met Mr Ng Hock Seng, 68, in 2010. The court heard that Mr Ng, who used to run a mini-mart in Hougang, cannot read, write and understand English.

Yap, a married man, also duped a woman from Hong Kong into thinking he was single and she became his girlfriend.

The court heard that the Singaporean father of three later cheated Hong Konger Betty Pui Tai, 38, of more than HK$100,000 (about S$20,000).

Yesterday, Yap, 38, pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery.

Mr Ng told Yap in 2011 that he wanted to use his savings for a low-risk investment. Yap, facing financial difficulties, hatched a plan to misappropriate Mr Ng's money and went to his home in September that year.

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 Visa debit 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."

 
 

The court heard that Yap later wrote his own home address on the current account application form without Mr Ng's knowledge. Yap also wrote his address on the debit card application form and the card was mailed to his home on Sept 13, 2011.

Monies linked to Mr Ng's investment were later credited to 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 paid him more than $200,000 as a settlement for the losses he suffered.

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

DPP Chin said Yap obtained the money from Ms Pui, who was his girlfriend since October 2015. He had borrowed about $500,000 from the Hong Konger and has not repaid her.

In December 2016, Yap messaged her, posing as his brother, and claimed that $20,000 was needed for his "bail". Ms Pui transferred the money over later that month. Yap, who is represented by lawyer Diana Ngiam, is now out on bail of $40,000. He is expected to be sentenced on March 14.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, UOB said 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 said any employee who violates the code faces disciplinary action.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Bank exec cheated client who cannot read English'. Print Edition | Subscribe