Foreign bank duped into transferring $4.4m to wrong account in Singapore

Ambrose Dionysius controlled the Bank of China account here which received the transfers by RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago). He was sentenced to five years' jail.
Ambrose Dionysius controlled the Bank of China account here which received the transfers by RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago). He was sentenced to five years' jail.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Singaporean director of firm that received stolen cash jailed for abetment and money laundering

Employees of a bank in the Caribbean were duped into transferring more than $4.4 million of their client's money into a Singapore bank account in 2013.

Yesterday, the court heard that staff at RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) made the error because they had overlooked a tiny difference between the fraudsters' e-mail domain and that of their client - the National Insurance Property Development Company (Nipdec).

Genuine e-mails from Nipdec have the domain @nipdec.com, while the ones RBC received ended with @nipderc.com.

The monies were transferred to a Bank of China account in Singapore owned by Hayashi Construction and Engineering. It was controlled by a director of the firm, Ambrose Dionysius, 60.

The Singaporean was sentenced yesterday to five years' jail after abetting his firm in receiving the stolen cash.

He also committed money laundering when he transported from Singapore to Malaysia cash totalling $400,000 - benefits of his criminal conduct. In addition, he transferred $585,217 of his ill-gotten gains to his Malaysian associate, Ms Song Li Woon.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat said that Dionysius was involved in one of the biggest money laundering cases the courts have seen to date. He was convicted of the offences on July 18 after an eight-day trial. Court papers did not mention who sent the fraudulent e-mails to RBC.

District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid found Dionysius guilty on two counts each of abetting to receive stolen property, receiving stolen property and physically moving across the Causeway more than $30,000 in cash without giving a report to an authorised officer. The judge also convicted him on three counts of transferring and removing from Singapore benefits of his criminal activities.

District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid found Dionysius guilty on two counts each of abetting to receive stolen property, receiving stolen property and physically moving across the Causeway more than $30,000 in cash without giving a report to an authorised officer. The judge also convicted him on three counts of transferring and removing from Singapore benefits of his criminal activities.

In his submissions, DPP Leong said that the bank had received an e-mail on July 5, 2013, for a wire transfer, purportedly from Nipdec. The bank failed to spot the differences in the addresses, and did as instructed, remitting €671,856 (S$1.06 million) from Nipdec's account to Hayashi's in Singapore.

DPP Leong told Judge Imran that "on July 12, 2013, employing the same modus operandi, the fraudsters deceived RBC into wiring a further sum of" €2.03 million to Hayashi.

After receiving the monies, Dionysius withdrew some and transported $400,000 across the Causeway. He also transferred money to Ms Song. He did so on July 10 and July 12, 2013. DPP Leong said: "(Dionysius) did not withdraw the entire sum at one go as he knew that by doing so, he would trigger red flags at the bank and the transaction would be flagged for greater scrutiny - money laundering."

Nipdec's general manager stated in an affidavit that the company never had any dealings with Hayashi. RBC reimbursed Nipdec in full after the offences came to light. The bank suffered a loss of some $4 million, out of which it was able to recover about $3 million.

Defence lawyer S. Radakrishnan told the court yesterday that his client did not receive any money from the transactions.

Dionysius will be appealing against his conviction and sentence. He is out on $250,000 bail.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign bank duped into transferring $4.4m to wrong account in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe