Woman jailed for cheating and criminal breach of trust offences involving over $525,000

SINGAPORE - A woman misused more than $525,000 from people, including her business partners and employer, to tide over her financial woes.

Chua Li Li, 42, who owned baby apparel company Elise Enterprise, was sentenced on Monday (Oct 22) to three years and one month's jail.

She pleaded guilty to five cheating charges involving more than $236,000. She also admitted to two counts of criminal breach of trust involving over $62,000 .

Seventeen other charges for similar offences linked to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

The court heard that Chua also owned two other firms known as Elise Marketing and Elise Distributor.

In March 2009, the Singaporean approached one of her victims, Mr Cheong Cheng Siong, and asked him to invest in Elise Enterprise, claiming that the firm had been doing well but was then facing financial difficulties.

Chua also told him that his investment would be used to replenish stocks and that sales would improve within a year. Mr Cheong agreed to invest in the company as he thought that it was a good business opportunity.

In August that year, Chua showed Mr Cheong a forged purchase order, purportedly from NTUC, and told him that Elise Enterprise needed money to buy products from its suppliers.

She duped him into handing over $25,000, and another $86,000 later that year, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Ng.

In 2010, Chua persuaded Mr Tan Kok Kheng and Mr Alex Sim to join her as investors in a new business dealing with baby products. The trio set up a firm called Comfybaby.

By using a similar method, she duped Mr Tan into handing over cheques for a total of $125,770 in June that year.

The following month, she told him that Comfybaby needed to settle a 30 per cent downpayment to Jetview World for goods purchased. DPP Ng said that this was a genuine order and Mr Tan handed Chua a cheque for about $37,000.

"Instead of using the monies for the stated purpose, the accused dishonestly misappropriated the monies by encashing the cheque and using the monies to tide over her financial difficulties in her other companies," the DPP added.

In 2011, Chua was employed as an account executive by Beach City Asia and was entrusted with the firm's chequebook.

DPP Ng said: "Between March 21, 2011, and June 1, 2011, the accused misappropriated monies from the company by using company cheques signed by her boss to repay her own debts and for her family's expenses. The accused also encashed cheques addressed to various members of staff in the company, and misappropriated the money received."

Chua misappropriated more than $25,000 from Beach City Asia. Only about $6,000 was recovered and she has made no restitution.