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Just an example of how gambling can get someone into hot soup!

Jun 30, 2011
7 years' jail for cheating bank clients of $4.8m

Relationship manager had run up online gambling debts
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent

AN OCBC Bank relationship manager who cheated clients of $4.8 million over three years, mostly to repay online gambling debts, was sentenced to seven years' jail yesterday.

Tan Wei Chong, 32, now unemployed, duped the bank into believing that his customers had applied to withdraw money from their accounts via cashier's orders or debit authorisation forms.

The father of one pleaded guilty last week to 11 counts of cheating the bank of $2.15 million and €88,122 (S$157,000), and four counts of money-laundering.

In all, he faced 46 charges involving four customers, with the rest taken into consideration during his sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew told the court that Tan, who lost his job in September last year, would either get his clients to sign on blank forms, saying the debiting of their accounts and applications for cashier's orders were for investments, or forge their signatures.

Most of the money was transferred to a joint account maintained by four people, including his brother-in-law Lee Liang Loon.

Some of it was transferred to the personal OCBC accounts of Mr Lee and Tan's wife, Madam Ang Kah Wei.

Bank guidelines prohibit staff from using their own bank accounts to receive money from customers.

Investigations showed that some of the money was withdrawn via cash cheques or in the form of cash by Mr Lee after the money was credited to his personal or joint account.

The rest of the money went through a few rounds of transfers through several accounts, including Tan's personal OCBC account and a joint account he kept with his wife and mother, before the money was withdrawn in cash.

Tan had transferred the money through the various accounts to avoid arousing suspicion.

He also withdrew cash from his customers' accounts between March 2008 and December 2009.

DPP Teo argued that a stiff sentence was called for, citing three main aggravating factors: The charges were numerous and involved a significant amount; the offences were committed for about three years from November 2007; and Tan had abused the great degree of trust and authority the bank had placed in him.

'His repeated acts over such a substantial period of time show his persistence in engaging in such criminal conduct, and indicate a lack of remorse,' the DPP said.

This was definitely not a case of an isolated indiscretion or a momentary lapse of judgment on Tan's part, he added.

Defence counsel Derek Kang said his client started gambling through online casinos around late 2007.

He lost his savings and became desperate.

To try to recoup his losses, he resorted to siphoning away some of his clients' money, he said.

Mr Kang said Mr Lee was kept in the dark and allowed Tan to use his account for what his brother-in-law had said were joint investments with colleagues.

Tan, the lawyer added, would gamble at an online casino and regularly meet a runner to collect winnings or pay losses.

He also transferred some money to parties with whom he betted on soccer matches to settle losses.

District Judge Francis Remedios agreed with the prosecutor that a deterrent sentence was clearly necessary in this case, given the seriousness of the offences committed over three years, abuse of trust and authority, and the substantial amount of money Tan got for himself.

I 100% agree with Musicwhiz regarding his comment on gambling. And another thing strikes me in all this. OCBC clients were ripped-off over a period of three (3) years - to the tune of S$ 4.8 Million. Three (3) years? And the term "repeated acts", as used in the article, seems to have been the case. I find it troubling that OCBC seemed incapable of picking up that something was wrong earlier on. I realise OCBC enjoy a good reputation in our neck-of-the-woods but having read this article, I would hope OCBC is having a long hard cold-blooded review of some of its internal controls.
OCBC was named as one of the strongest bank. I think they forgot to include SECURITY in the Performance Measure.
Or Maybe other Bank fare worst.