UOB employee forged 'godsister's' signature to make $2.2m in unauthorised transactions

   Timothy Tan Swee Thiam used the forged documents to apply for items including investments in Ms Pang Tze Ling's name without her knowledge.
Timothy Tan Swee Thiam used the forged documents to apply for items including investments in Ms Pang Tze Ling's name without her knowledge.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A bank relationship manager repeatedly forged the signature of his "godsister" to make more than $2.2 million in unauthorised transactions from her accounts in an effort to meet sales targets.

Timothy Tan Swee Thiam, who was working for United Overseas Bank (UOB), used the forged documents to apply for items including investments in Ms Pang Tze Ling's name without her knowledge.

Ms Pang, 50, suffered a net loss of more than $120,000 from the financial products while Tan pocketed almost $3,500 in commission from the transactions.

He also made unauthorised cash withdrawals and fund transfers from one of her accounts totalling over $282,000, which he used to gamble and spend on personal expenses.

Tan, 33, pleaded guilty in court on Tuesday (March 19) to five counts of committing forgery for the purpose of cheating and three charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

He also admitted to a criminal breach of trust charge. Another 23 charges for similar offences will be considered during sentencing.

The court heard that Tan worked as a UOB relationship manager from January 2011 before resigning in October 2015.

He got to know Ms Pang's father whom he assisted with investments. The two men later became close and Tan became Mr Pang Keng Ung's godson.

After Mr Pang died in 2014, he helped the jobless Ms Pang to open two UOB bank accounts. One was a joint account with her brother, Mr Pang Tze Kaan.

Ms Pang then entrusted Tan with her security token which allowed the relationship manager to access them.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew told District Judge Salina Ishak: "She entrusted the accused with the monies in the said accounts for the accused to manage her investments in transactions that were authorised by her, make bill payments for her family and make monthly fund transfers to Tze Kaan for his living expenses.

"The accused was not authorised to make any other transaction with the victim's bank accounts... for any other purpose."

 
 

But between January and August 2015 Tan forged Ms Pang's signature on 11 UOB forms to apply for the subscription of financial products without her knowledge.

Between November 2014 and January 2016 he made unauthorised cash withdrawals and fund transfers.

Court documents did not state how Tan's offences came to light but Ms Pang alerted the police about his offences in February 2016.

On Monday, DPP Yew told the court that more than $23,000 was later seized from Tan's bank account and this sum was directly traceable to the offences. In addition, Tan has made $157,500 in restitution.

He is now out on bail of $35,000 and is expected to be sentenced on May 6.

UOB said in a statement that it does not tolerate any of its employees breaching its Code of Conduct.

Editor's note: Tan was sentenced on Oct 11 to 2-1/2 years' jail for misappropriating more than $260,000 from the woman he regarded as his godsister. Amendments were also made to the facts of the case, according to latest court documents.