UOB employee forged signature for $2.2m in unauthorised transactions

Timothy Tan Swee Thiam yesterday admitted to forging the signature of his "godsister".
Timothy Tan Swee Thiam yesterday admitted to forging the signature of his "godsister".

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 more than $282,000, which he gambled and spent on personal expenses.

Tan, 33, pleaded guilty in court yesterday 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 to October 2015. He got to know Ms Pang's father while helping him 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 accounts. One was a joint account with her brother, Mr Pang Tze Kaan. Ms Pang entrusted Tan with her security token, which allowed him to access the accounts.

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."

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

From November 2014 to 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 to his offences in February 2016.

Yesterday, 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 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline 'UOB employee forged signature for $2.2m in unauthorised transactions'. Print Edition | Subscribe