Man jailed for 12 months for cheating company of $138,000

Taiwanese Chen Chen-chang, 44, was jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty in August to six charges of cheating involving about $66,000. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A manager duped an administrative clerk of a company into believing that cheques given to him on various occasions were meant to pay for sales commissions when this was false.

Over three years, Chen Chen-chang cheated the company, 9 & Nine, a supplier of commercial kitchen equipment, of $138,103.

On Friday (Oct 6), the 44-year-old Taiwanese was jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty in August to six charges of cheating involving about $66,000.

He has made full restitution.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Weiming said that Chen, a Singapore permanent resident, rose through the ranks to the position of manager. He quit in August 2015 after about 18 years with the company.

The company's director, Taiwanese Hsu Ying-wen, 70, relocated to Taiwan and left the running of the company to Chen once operations had stabilised.

Chen then paid commissions to himself from the company's United Overseas Bank account.

The company would pay the commissions to clients if they successfully introduced new customers to buy its goods.

The company's cheques required two signatories to sign on them before they could be issued.

Mr Hsu had pre-signed his cheque book, and Chen would sign on it as the second signatory whenever he needed to issue a cheque.

Chen's modus operandus centred upon him using cheques issued from the company's UOB account to pay the commissions to people who were said to have introduced business to the company, when in fact Chen was the one who clinched the business deals. There was thus no need for the company to pay out such commissions.

Chen falsely represented to the administrative clerk, on different occasions, that he needed a cheque to pay the commissions to the purported payees who had introduced business to the company. He knew that this was false, and dishonestly induced the clerk to fill up and deliver the cheques to him.

Chen would then pass the cheques to the purported payees, who would then withdraw the commissions and pass them to him.

Chen's lawyer Diana Ngiam said in mitigation that her client fell into temptation because of financial constraints. She said he wanted to raise funds for his aged mother in Taiwan who needed knee surgery. He also had to pay for his daughter's treatment and medication for eczema.

Seeking a sentence of at least 14 months, DPP Tan highlighted aggravating factors. He said Chen was the manager of the Singapore company and yet chose to abuse the employer's trust and committed the offences over an extended period of three years.

Eighteen other similar charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.

Chen could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined on each charge.

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