Director used fake invoices to get $25m in funds

Vanguard Project Management director Choy Peiyi was sentenced to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to 23 counts of cheating.
Vanguard Project Management director Choy Peiyi was sentenced to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to 23 counts of cheating.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

By using fake invoices, the sole director of a company which provides renovation and interior design services duped a crowd-funding firm into disbursing more than $25 million in cash.

The crowdfunding firm, Capital Springboard Singapore, allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to borrow cash from investors against unpaid invoices issued to customers by the SMEs.

Although Choy Peiyi, 35, returned about $20 million of the money, the company still suffered more than $6.8 million in losses.

The director of Vanguard Project Management was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in jail after plea-ding guilty on June 8 to 23 counts of cheating. Another 212 cheating charges and two counts of mo-ney laundering were considered during sentencing.

She committed the offences between late 2014 and early last year.

In a genuine arrangement, Choy could sell monies owed to Vanguard Project - as indicated in invoices - to a factoring agency like Capital Springboard Singapore, which would, in turn, hand her the cash.

And in certain circumstances, when Vanguard Project is paid by its clients, it could return the amount given by the factoring agency.

Choy abused the system and decided to cheat Capital Springboard Singapore.

To create fictitious invoices and purchase orders, Choy made ink stamps bearing the names of companies including Fish & Co and cleaning company Evershine Services.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat said that between November 2016 and March last year, Choy created 23 fictitious invoices issued by Vanguard Project for purported renovation works which were not carried out.

These invoices bore the names of the companies whose ink stamps she had duplicated.

Choy then submitted these bogus invoices to Capital Springboard Singapore, which handed her the money.

Court documents did not mention how her offences came to light.

But after her arrest, she admitted to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) that she used about $1.4 million of her ill-gotten gains to pay off items including her company's bad debts.

DPP Leong said: "The accused had also admitted to the CAD that she had spent the money on herself, to gamble at Marina Bay Sands, for overseas trips, to purchase a second-hand BMW and also to pay the down payment for a condominium unit."

Choy, who is now out on bail of $300,000, was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on July 12 to begin serving her sentence.

Mr Roger Crook, chief executive of Capital Springboard, said that "this was a strategically executed act of crime for selfish gains and one that could have happened to any of the other invoice financing platforms here. We are pleased that justice has been served and the accused has been taken to task".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2018, with the headline 'Director used fake invoices to get $25m in funds'. Print Edition | Subscribe