SINGAPORE - While working as a financial consultant with OCBC Bank, a Singaporean man hatched a plan to use clients' money to pay off his gambling debts.
Hoi Wei Kit selected as his victims those who were not technologically savvy and relied on his explanations instead of scrutinising the necessary documents when they signed up for financial products.
Hoi, 34, cheated five clients of $170,000 and was sentenced to 30 months' jail in court on Monday (Feb 21).
He had pleaded guilty on Jan 17 to seven charges, including five counts of cheating involving $130,000.
Thirteen other charges, including three counts of cheating linked to the remaining $40,000, were considered during sentencing.
According to court documents, Deputy Public Prosecutor Dhiraj G. Chainani said Hoi worked as a financial consultant in OCBC from Oct 6, 2015, to April 1, 2018.
His responsibilities included selling insurance and investment products to individuals as well as helping them open bank accounts with OCBC Singapore.
Hoi knew that to apply for a typical time deposit account, a client had to fill in and sign at least two forms.
One indicates the details of the time deposit account to be created in the client's name, and the other authorises the debit of funds from the client's bank account to the time deposit account.
As Hoi had no intention of creating time deposit accounts for the victims, he let them sign only the form authorising the debit of funds from their bank accounts.
He then transferred their funds to OCBC accounts belonging to his associates.
The DPP said: "The accused would give various fictitious reasons to these associates as to why monies were being deposited or transferred to their accounts. The accused would then instruct the associates to transfer the monies to his own accounts."
Hoi carried out the offences from October 2017 to January 2018. Three of the victims were aged 60 and above at the time of the offences.
His criminal acts came to light when one of his victims visited an OCBC branch on April 9, 2018 to request a withdrawal of her $30,000 fixed deposit.
Investigations revealed there was no fixed deposit account in the woman's name. A branch manager alerted the police three days later.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times in January, OCBC had said it reported the matter to the police shortly after it discovered the fraudulent transactions.
Its spokesman added then: "We take a serious view of such matters and will not tolerate any employee's breach of the bank's code of conduct."
For each count of cheating, Hoi could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.