Ex-GM of construction firm jailed for cheating offences leading to loss of $755k

SINGAPORE - The general manager of a building construction firm made multiple fraudulent applications for disbursement of funds to cheat two financial institutions, causing a loss of more than $755,000.

Thang Cheong Nam, 56, who was also a director at Golden Nugget from October 2003 to November 2017, was sentenced to four years and six months' jail on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of cheating.

The company has been dissolved following compulsory insolvency winding up in November 2017.

Between 2013 and 2014, Golden Nugget maintained a pre-shipment invoice financing credit facility with the Bank of East Asia and Hong Leong Finance.

This enabled the firm to obtain advance financing to pay its suppliers before goods were delivered. Under the credit facility, the financial institutions would disburse funds directly to the suppliers.

The court heard that Golden Nugget had to submit application forms and documents to show that it had entered into transactions with suppliers before the financial institutions could disburse the funds.

Between February 2013 and October 2014, Thang made seven fraudulent applications for disbursement of funds totalling US$1,295,724 (S$1,633,349 at the time) by submitting forged invoices.

This duped the Bank of East Asia and Hong Leong Finance into believing the applications were for genuine purchases of tiles from three firms - Development International Holdings, Foshan Reavin International and Qabas International Holdings.

All three suppliers were based in Hong Kong, the court heard.

Thang's offences came to light in January 2015 when he approached Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department after consulting a lawyer and told its officers that he had cheated financial institutions by submitting forged documents.

Thang's lawyers, Mr Sunil Sudheesan and Ms Joyce Khoo from Quahe Woo & Palmer law firm, told the court on Wednesday that he had shown genuine remorse and had surrendered himself to the police in 2015.

They noted that he had a misguided intent to take out the loans from the financial institutions, thinking that this would help the firm.

"Our client took out these loans in what (he) viewed as the best interests of the company. Pertinently, our client did not personally benefit from these loans," they added.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.