Former HSBC senior V-P gets jail for cheating

A former financial-planning senior vice-president of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), who lured unsuspecting seniors into opening bogus fixed deposit accounts and cheated them of more than $5 million, was jailed for 10 years and six months yesterday.

Emeline Tang Wei Leng, 39, had earlier pleaded guilty to 34 charges, including cheating and forgery, while another 223 charges were considered during sentencing.

Four of her victims were family members. Among them was a 79-year-old aunt of her former husband and her 45-year-old sister-in-law. The other victims were two distant relatives - a pair of sisters aged 69 and 79 - and their 81-year-old friend. The names of the five victims were not revealed in court documents.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Haniza Abnass urged District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim to sentence Tang to 10 years' jail, stressing that the accused, who worked for the bank between 2004 and 2012, had preyed on elderly and vulnerable victims.

The court heard that in 2003, Tang learnt from her then husband that his aunt had come into some money after she had sold a property.

Tang got in touch with the older woman and lied to her, claiming that HSBC had fixed deposit plans that offered high interest rates of 3 per cent to 4 per cent. She volunteered to open a fixed deposit account for the woman and also persuaded the victim to issue her a cash cheque for this, claiming it would be faster to deposit the monies that way.

Other elderly women in Tang's circle who heard about the higher-interest fixed deposits also gave her cash cheques or cash to open accounts for them.

Tang kept the money for herself but prepared policy booklets purportedly issued by HSBC, bearing the bank's logo and with details such as policy numbers, maturity value, commencement and expiry dates.

Tang's lawyer Mathew Kurian pleaded for his client to be sentenced to eight years' jail. He said Tang had used the money to settle her former husband's debts and pay for her father's cancer treatment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Former HSBC senior V-P gets jail for cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe