Ex-banker jailed for forgery, cheating involving over $1m

A personal banker with United Overseas Bank (UOB) took liberties with his clients' funds through a range of schemes, including misselling policies and buying unauthorised policies under their name, causing nine clients to suffer nearly $500,000 in losses.

Nguyen Duy Minh, 29, who is no longer with the bank, committed the offences involving more than $1.1 million in total between September 2013 and December 2014.

Minh pleaded guilty in March to nine forgery-related charges and three counts of cheating.

Yesterday, the Vietnamese national was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail. He also admitted to one count each of criminal breach of trust and dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct. Thirty other charges - mainly for similar offences - were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi told the court the accused had earned more than $74,000 in commission from the sale of unauthorised investments and policies.

Minh joined UOB in January 2013 and his crime spree began in the second half of that year. In August 2013, one of the bank's customers, Mr Chan Yew Thong, told Minh he wanted to obtain a banker's guarantee for $40,000.

Minh recommended a financial product purportedly offered by UOB which consisted of a fixed deposit, an insurance policy and an entitlement to a banker's guarantee application. This financial product did not exist, said DPP Hon.

Mr Chan, who fell for the ruse, signed the necessary forms and handed Minh a cheque, dated Sept 3, 2013, for $41,000. Minh deposited it into Mr Chan's UOB savings account before using the funds to buy two insurance policies under Mr Chan's name, without his knowledge.

After Mr Chan discovered what Minh had done, he made a police report on Oct 21, 2014.

The court heard Minh used a similar method to cheat other clients, including Ms Le Thi Cam Pu, also a Vietnamese national. In March 2014, he recommended to her a supposed investment in a Singapore Government bond for US$300,000 (S$400,000) even though UOB did not offer the financial product at that time.

After the money was deposited, he made purchases from Templeton Global Bond Fund under her name, without her knowledge.

Earlier, in February that year, Minh had a cheque book linked to her UOB account sent to his home. He committed forgery between September and December 2014 by issuing cheques amounting to $181,500 in total to four people. DPP Hon said Minh has made no restitution.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-banker jailed for forgery, cheating involving over $1m'. Print Edition | Subscribe