Former UOB relationship manager admits misappropriating $200,000 from illiterate client

Yap Bin Chun pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery on Jan 23, 2019.
Yap Bin Chun pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery on Jan 23, 2019.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A United Overseas Bank (UOB) relationship manager abused his illiterate client's trust and misappropriated more than $200,000 from the man after convincing him to sign various forms.

Yap Bin Chun, who worked for the bank from 2009 to 2013, met Mr Ng Hock Seng, 68, in 2010. The court heard that Mr Ng, who used to run a minimart in Hougang, cannot read, write or understand English.

Yap, a married man, also duped a woman from Hong Kong into thinking that he was single and she became his girlfriend.

The court heard that the Singaporean father of three later cheated Hong Konger Betty Pui Tai, 38, of more than HK$100,000 (S$20,000).

On Wednesday (Jan 23), Yap, 38, pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery.

Mr Ng told Yap in 2011 that he wanted to use his savings for a low-risk investment.

Yap, facing financial difficulties, hatched a plan to misappropriate the Singaporean's money and went to Mr Ng's home in September that year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said: "During this meeting, the accused also asked Ng to sign an application form for a UOB current account, as well as an application form for a UOB debit Visa card which was to be linked to the current account.

"The accused did not tell Ng what the forms were for. Although Ng did not understand the forms, he signed as he was asked to."

The court heard that Yap later wrote his own home address on the current account opening form without Mr Ng's knowledge.

He also penned down the same address on the debit card application form and the card was mailed to Yap's home on Sept 13, 2011.

Monies linked to Mr Ng's investment were later credited into the current account.

Between Oct 3 that year and March 20, 2012, Yap misappropriated more than $200,000 from the account by using the debit card.

The offences came to light only on Feb 24, 2016, when Mr Ng went to UOB to check on the status of his finances. He lodged a police report five days later. After investigating, UOB later paid him more than $200,000 as a settlement for the losses he suffered.

On June 6, 2016, the Commercial Affairs Department recorded a statement from Yap, who eventually repaid the bank the amount.

DPP Chin said he obtained the money from Ms Pui, who was his girlfriend from October 2015. He had borrowed about $500,000 from the Hong Konger and has not repaid her.

In December 2016, Yap messaged her, posing as his brother, and claimed that $20,000 was needed for his "bail".

DPP Chin said this was untrue, as Yap was never sent to remand prison as claimed. Ms Pui believed the lies and transferred the money over later that month. The relationship ended in June 2017 after she discovered his marital status.

Yap, who is represented by lawyer Diana Ngiam, is now out on bail of $40,000. He is expected to be sentenced on March 14.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, UOB said it does not tolerate any employee’s breach of its code of conduct, which is “values-based and sets the requirement for all to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards”.

The bank’s spokesman added that any UOB employee who does not comply with the code faces disciplinary action.