Ex-bank employee jailed nine years for cheating former colleague of nearly $4 million

SINGAPORE - A man cheated his former colleague of almost $4 million by getting him to put money into a so-called investment scheme with guaranteed returns.

To support his lies, Cheong Eh Meng forged documents from places, including Singapore's Supreme Court and Subordinate Courts, before handing them to Mr Eddy Tan Huck Shoon, 65.

Mr Tan lost all of his life savings to the scam, the court heard. He also has to continue working to pay off his debts as he had taken loans to obtain cash, which he handed to Cheong.

Cheong, 55, was sentenced to nine years' jail on Thursday (Feb 14). He pleaded guilty last month to 20 counts of cheating and seven forgery charges.

He also admitted to two counts of being in possession of a counterfeit seal. The court heard that he committed his offences between 2011 and 2013.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui told the court that Cheong became an undischarged bankrupt on Oct 27, 2000. He was discharged only on May 17, 2016.

Cheong used to work with Mr Tan in a bank but they lost contact after Cheong was retrenched in 1997. The pair reconnected in 2011.

Some time in May that year, Cheong persuaded the older man to take part in an "investment scheme" that purportedly generated revenue from roulette games in various overseas casinos in Asia.

Mr Tan believed Cheong and transferred to him the money in several tranches.

DPP Chong said: "Unknown to Tan, the accused intended to apply these sums... towards his personal expenses, including the purchase of luxury or counterfeit watches, paying off his debts, and funding his casino gambling activities."

Cheong also concocted "a complex web of lies" so that Mr Tan would continue to deliver money to him. The court heard that he lied to Mr Tan, telling him that the investment scheme had earned substantial returns.

However, Cheong claimed that the funds were frozen in overseas bank accounts as he had to pay items such as outstanding debts and fines arising from pending civil and criminal proceedings against him.

To support his lies, Cheong forged documents purportedly issued by organisations, including Singapore's Supreme and Subordinate courts, before handing them to Mr Tan.

He also obtained from Malaysia counterfeit seals bearing the words "Supreme Court" and "Subordinate Court" and used them to stamp on the forged documents so that they appeared genuine.

Court documents did not say how the offences came to light but Mr Tan lodged a police report against Cheong on Aug 9, 2013.

DPP Chong told the court that more than $150,000 in cash was recovered during investigations. The authorities also recovered seven watches worth about $3,000 in all.

But Cheong had made no restitution for the remaining sum of about $3.8 million.

Cheong is represented by lawyers Kertar Singh and Lee Wei Liang. Mr Lee told the court their client is remorseful and will try to make amends with Mr Tan after paying his dues.

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