Former accountant jailed after siphoning more than $2 million from employers

Yeo Yong Heng, 53, was sentenced to three years and 11 months' jail after he pleaded guilty last month to 250 charges, including cheating, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
Yeo Yong Heng, 53, was sentenced to three years and 11 months' jail after he pleaded guilty last month to 250 charges, including cheating, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - An accountant used false payment vouchers to deceive his workplace superior into signing their companies' cheques before siphoning more than $2 million from the two firms.

Yeo Yong Heng, 53, was sentenced to three years and 11 months' jail on Wednesday (Feb 13) after he pleaded guilty last month to 250 charges, including cheating, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.

The court heard that 616 other charges were considered during sentencing.

Before handing down the sentence on Wednesday, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said that there had been a "relationship of trust" between Yeo and his employers.

The judge also noted that the former accountant had "taken advantage of the companies' weak corporate governance".

Yeo worked for Steel Industries from 1996 to 2013 and Malaysia-based S.I. Stainless from 2011 to 2013.

One of the directors of Steel Industries, Singaporean Ong Soon Liong, also ran S.I. Stainless, the court heard.

 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Anne Fernandez said Steel Industries had accounts in three banks, with Mr Ong as the sole authorised signatory.

Yeo was entrusted with cheque books from the three banks and his job included preparing cheques and payment vouchers as well as collecting payments on behalf of Steel Industries.

But between Dec 29, 2006, and June 22, 2013, he duped Mr Ong into issuing cheques from Steel Industries for purported company-related expenses and advances made by the firm to other parties.

He used cheques bearing fictitious payments and supported his deception by showing false payment vouchers.

DPP Fernandez said: "Yeo thus deceived Ong into believing that the amounts stated in the cheques were for legitimate expenses incurred by and advances to be made by Steel Industries.

"Yeo thereby dishonestly induced Ong to authorise payments of the amounts indicated in the cheques, and to deliver these signed cheques to Yeo."

He used the same ruse on S.I. Stainless as well.

In 2013, the Commercial Affairs Department launched an investigation after receiving a suspicious transaction report linked to Yeo's bank, stating that at least 26 cheques issued by Steel Industries for more than $300,000 in total had been deposited into his accounts between October 2012 and March that year.

The court heard that Yeo had used the monies to buy shares, a Toyota Wish and two apartments - one in Amber Road and another in Jalan Dusun near Balestier Road.

He has since made full restitution after selling the two properties.