Secretary forged cheques, payment vouchers to embezzle over $1m

SINGAPORE - Entrusted with pre-signed blank cheques and payment vouchers, the secretary of a printing company misappropriated more than $1 million over four years.

Peter Nah Kim Chye, 58, also forged his qualifications to apply for a job at another printing company.

On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and forgery for the purpose of cheating.

Another seven charges of criminal breach of trust and forgery will be taken into consideration for sentencing.

He was employed as a secretary at printing company I Dzzign from March 2010 to October 2016, and also acted as one of the company’s directors.

His job entailed ensuring suppliers and vendors were paid promptly and overseeing the company’s accounting records and book-keeping.

As such, he was entrusted with blank cheques, blank payment vouchers and blank telegraphic transfer forms which had been pre-signed by the company director, who was the sole signatory of the company’s OCBC account.

For about four years from October 2010 to November 2014, Nah abused the trust placed in him and fabricated payment vouchers and invoices to misappropriate more than $1 million from I Dzzign.

For the payment vouchers, he had photocopied those that bore the genuine signature before scanning and doctoring them digitally to remove all other entries except for the signature.

He printed the doctored scan and filled in the other particulars of the payment vouchers by hand, including details such as the date of payment voucher, payee, amount payable, reason for payment and cheque number.

Nah also signed on these forged payment vouchers himself, to state that he had verified these payment vouchers as company secretary.

The payments and cheques were made out to himself, supposedly as monies “being owed to director”.

He also tricked a supplier in Malaysia to pay him through a subordinate, claiming that the payments had something to do with claiming goods and services tax.

Nah told the supplier to charge I Dzzign and then pay the transferred sum back to him through a subordinate. The supplier and Nah’s subordinate trusted him and followed his instructions.

Nah’s schemes came to light only after he resigned from I Dzzign in 2016, and the company director checked the accounts.

She lodged a police report and the company also commenced civil proceedings against Nah in the High Court.

In the course of these civil proceedings, Nah declared that his highest qualification was a Primary 3 pass result.

The director then recalled that Nah had claimed to possess a Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level certificate when he applied for a job with her.

She checked with the Ministry of Education, which later confirmed it had no record of Nah sitting any Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level examination.

Investigations revealed that Nah had previously applied for a job with another printing company, Flo-Prints and Packs, using forged qualifications in 2009.

In that application, he claimed to have a Singapore-Cambridge GCE O-level certificate, a diploma in marketing from The Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a certificate in marketing from Thames Business Management School.

He forged these by using the educational qualifications of other individuals.

He photocopied the originals, then covered the names by pasting pieces of white paper on the photocopied qualifications before scanning them. He then digitally edited the documents to include his name.

Flo-Prints had offered him a job because of these forged qualifications.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Xin Jie told the court that Nah has not made any restitution. He urged the court to jail Nah for at least 66 months.

The case has been adjourned for mitigation and sentencing, and is expected to be heard again on Jan 6, 2023.

For criminal breach of trust as an employee, Nah can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

For forgery for the purpose of cheating, he can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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