2 men admit to role in ruse where bank was duped into approving $2.84m mortgage loan

Iswandi Yahya (left) and Mohamad Hamzi Rabu admitted to their roles in a ruse in which a bank was duped into approving a mortgage loan of $2.84 million. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Two men admitted in a district court on Monday (Nov 30) to their roles in a ruse in which a bank was duped into approving a mortgage loan of $2.84 million.

Iswandi Yahya, 38, who was jobless at the time, was unable to repay the loan to Malayan Banking (Maybank), and this led it to suffer a loss of more than $1.2 million. No restitution has been made to date.

Both Iswandi and former property agent Mohamad Hamzi Rabu, 50, were linked to a cashback scam in which arrangements were made to sell a Woodgrove Walk house near Woodlands Avenue 1 for $2.4 million but to state an inflated sale price of $3.55 million.

On Monday, Hamzi admitted that he had fraudulently executed a transfer form containing the false statement.

Iswandi, on his part, admitted that he had cheated Maybank into delivering the loan.

Their alleged accomplices are Mohamed Haron Hassan, 39; Bijabahadur Rai Shree Kantrai, 50; and Juma'at Johari and Sufandi Ahmad, both 40. The cases involving these four men are still pending.

Upon the completion of the sale, Hamzi, who was the seller of the property, received $2.4 million. According to court documents, Haron and Juma'at later received a "cashback" of $464,000.

The court heard that Bijabahadur had earlier proposed the "cashback scheme" to Sufandi, whose role was to look for private landed properties which were then on sale.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Joseph Gwee and Benedict Chan said that Sufandi also had to look for "buyers" who would purchase these properties in their names.

The prosecutors added: "Sufandi then convinced the sellers... to inflate the stated sale price of the property on the conveyancing documents... (and) to perform a 'cashback' of the excess payment the seller received from the buyer's bank upon completion as a result of the sale price."

The DPPs said that some time in 2014, Sufandi learnt that the Woodgrove Walk house was for sale and roped Iswandi in as a buyer.

Iswandi would also apply for a mortgage loan in his name to buy the house and was also told that he would be paid $5,000 later.

Iswandi agreed to take part in the ruse even though he had no financial means to buy the house.

The DPPs said: "Through Haron and Juma'at, Sufandi made arrangements with Hamzi to agree to sell (the house) for $2.4 million but to state an inflated sale price of $3.55 million on the conveyancing documents."

According to court documents, Sufandi also obtained forged documents, including one purportedly from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, falsely stating that Iswandi had an annual income of more than $470,000 in 2013.

Maybank later received these documents before approving the mortgage loan of $2.84 million to Iswandi. The completion of the property's sale took place on Oct 3, 2014.

He later defaulted on the loan payments. The bank then exercised its security over the house and sold it for around $1.6 million, incurring a loss of more than $1.2 million.

The offences came to light after financial institutions, including Maybank, alerted the police between November 2014 and February 2015.

Iswandi is represented by defence lawyer Goh Qian Hui, who told the court on Monday that her client did not receive any of the monies from the cashback scheme.

Iswandi will be sentenced on Dec 8, while Hamzi will be sentenced on Jan 6 next year.

For cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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