Woman jailed for misappropriating over $5m worth of gold bars and funds from victims

SINGAPORE - A Vietnamese woman was sentenced to 11 years' jail on Friday (March 4) after misappropriating more than $5 million worth of gold bars and funds from multiple victims.

Nguyen Thi Thu Lan, 51, who was a director of a firm called Hans Global, committed the offences between November 2017 and March 2019.

She also cheated her other victims of more than $660,000.

The court heard that Lan was the sole person in charge of Hans Global's gold business. Her responsibilities included sourcing for customers and placing orders with gold suppliers.

Her husband was a co-director of Hans Global, while her stepson was the sole director of another firm called S.J.C. Joint Venture.

Lan was a 50 per cent shareholder of S.J.C. Joint Venture and ran its day-to-day operations.

She took payment for gold bars from clients of both firms, but failed to deliver the goods.

Her victims included YNK Holdings, Singapore Island Resources (SIR) and ORO Trading.

In one instance, some time on or before Sept 5, 2018, SIR agreed to buy 53 gold bars from Lan and transferred more than $2.6 million to Hans Global's bank account as payment.

Lan used the money to buy at least 50 gold bars from GoldSilver Central, a supplier of precious metals.

She was supposed to deliver the gold bars to SIR within one to two working days.

"However, none of the SIR gold bars were delivered to SIR and were instead applied by the accused to her own purposes. The accused therefore dishonestly misappropriated the SIR gold bars," deputy public prosecutors Gerald Tan and Jonathan Tan stated in court documents.

"(They) have not been recovered and the accused has not disclosed information on their whereabouts. (She) refunded only $10,000 to SIR between Jan 16 and 18, 2019."

In 2019, Lan also deceived a company called JAJ Goldline into transferring more than $660,000 by falsely representing that she would deliver 12 gold bars to it.

Instead, she used the money to buy 11 gold bars "which she distributed to other victims".

Lan was finally arrested on May 22, 2019, but the DPPs said she was "uncooperative in the course of investigations".

They also told the court that Lan had not divulged the whereabouts of the gold bars and monies which she had misappropriated from the various victims.

On Friday, Lan pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of cheating. Nine other charges were considered during sentencing.

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