Ex-accounts officer pleads guilty to forging company cheques, taking nearly $1.4m to gamble

SINGAPORE - An accounts officer in a family-owned firm dealing with electronics forged cheques from another company with the same owners and pocketed nearly $1.4 million.

Koh Boon Keak, who worked for Shankar's Emporium, committed the offence 52 times over six years, between August 2011 and December 2017.

A district court heard on Thursday (June 18) that he used his ill-gotten gains to gamble.

The 42-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty in court to one count each of creating false invoices and forging multiple cheques.

Koh worked as an accounts officer for Shankar's Emporium from Dec 16, 2009, to Jan 31, 2018.

His duties included managing its accounts as well as those of Malaya Silk Store.

Malaya Silk Store, which is in Orchard Shopping Centre, deals with textiles.

The court heard that as part of his job, Koh was familiar with the payment and filing processes adopted by Malaya Silk Store.

He was also entrusted with keeping its cheques and preparing them for issuance for company matters, subject to at least two authorised signatories.

Around 2011, Koh hatched a plan to dishonestly misappropriate money from Malaya Silk Store.

As part of the ruse, he brought home blank company cheques before forging the signatures of two authorised signatories - a human resource executive and a finance manager.

After that, he forged invoices purportedly issued by the Management Corporation Strata Title of Orchard Shopping Centre to Malaya Silk Store for " licence fees".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Regina Lim said: "He did so by first creating a Microsoft Excel template using a genuine invoice that he took home from the office.

 

"He would then amend the details in the template, send it to his e-mail address and print it out from the office to give the impression that it was a genuine invoice."

The money would then be credited into Koh's own bank account after the cheques cleared.

Following this, he would use the company's account system to create false payment vouchers and file them together with the forged invoices for audit purposes.

His offences came to light after Shankar's Emporium and Malaya Silk Store conducted their annual audit for the period of July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.

An auditor flagged some entries Koh made in 2017 and one of the owners of the companies alerted the police on Dec 28, 2018 .

The DPP said that Koh has made no restitution.

On Thursday, she urged the court to sentence him to at least eight years' jail, stressing that he had abused his employer's trust and concealed his offences with "sophistication".

Koh will be sentenced on July 3.

For forging a cheque, an offender can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.