Woman jailed 7½ years for forging company cheques for $1.7m

Wong Huey Min siphoned off $1.7 million over 6½ years and purportedly used the money to pay off her husband's gambling debts. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - An accounts executive siphoned off $1.7 million over 6½ years and purportedly used the money to pay off her husband's gambling debts, a district court has heard.

Wong Huey Min committed 159 counts of forgery between Jan 19, 2009, and May 8, 2015, when she was working for Royal Garment Factory (RGF).

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to 20 counts on Aug 24 and was sentenced to 90 months' jail on Tuesday (Sept 12) for forging RGF managing director Heng Yang How's signature on company cheques.

No restitution has been made.

Wong had been entrusted with the cheque books of RGF and Royal Realty, the latter being purportedly owned by Mr Heng, according to the prosecution.

Whenever Mr Heng needed to issue cheques, Wong would fill up the necessary details before Mr Heng signed them.

Between 2009 and 2015, Wong forged Mr Heng's signature on the cheques, and issued them to herself or her husband.

These forged cheques would be deposited by Wong or an unsuspecting colleague into bank accounts, or withdrawn in cash by Wong.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi said that Wong managed to evade detection because she was purportedly the main person in charge of RGF from 2010 onwards, and was fully trusted to handle its finances.

When the bank accounts which the forged cheques were drawn on became low on funds due to her offences, Wong would make deposits into the accounts to prolong her offending behaviour.

When Mr Heng asked to view the accounts, she would tell him that everything was under control and that he need not worry about it.

In 2013, the bank statements of the affected accounts were inconsistent with their respective company accounts.

Wong forged the bank statements to achieve consistency. She typed certain figures in her computer, printed out those figures, and pasted them on the original bank statements, before photocopying the forged documents for RGF's record.

In 2014, her offences came to light when she could no longer make deposits into the accounts to cover up her unlawful withdrawals.

In total, she siphoned $1.67 million over six years and four months, and purportedly used the money mostly to pay off her husband's gambling debts.

The prosecution had sought at least 96 months' jail to be imposed, citing aggravating factors such as the high level of trust placed in Wong, the long period of offending and the substantial amount involved.

Agreeing that there were several aggravating factors, District Judge Wong Li Tein said the breach of trust had resulted in serious losses. She said that in this case, Wong was systematic, persistent, very clear-minded and deliberate as she was able to cover up her wrongdoing.

Wong, represented by Ms Diana Ngiam, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined on each charge.

She has filed a notice of appeal and bail of $250,000 was allowed, pending her appeal against the sentence.

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