News & Updates

Jan 2018

Jail for former employee, member in multi-million Keppel Club membership scam

Wee Pan Lee acted for the Accused

SINGAPORE — Two people involved in the multi-million dollar Keppel Club membership scam were sentenced to jail by the State Courts on Wednesday (Jan 10).

Former Keppel Club membership department supervisor Nah Hak Chuah, 67, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin was given a jail sentence of four-and-a-half years.

Both Nah and Cheo admitted to their offences on Nov 30 last year.

Cheo, 67, pleaded guilty to 20 out of 303 counts of money laundering, while Nah admitted to 30 counts of making false entries in the club’s electronic membership database. Nah had faced 1,280 charges in total, court documents showed.

The mastermind behind the membership scam, Setho Oi Lin – also known as Irene Setho – was convicted of 60 counts of cheating on Dec 4. Setho will return to court for sentencing on Feb 9.

In sentencing Nah and Cheo, Principal District Judge Bala Reddy said on Wednesday that all companies relied on the integrity of their employees.

Nah, as supervisor in the membership department, “knowingly breached his duty of fidelity to his employer, Keppel Club”, the judge said.

As for Cheo, the judge said while her offences spanned four out of the 11 years of the scam, she had “lent her unstinting loyal support” to Setho’s plan, noting her “deliberate and conscious choice”.

“It is also clear that there were inadequate checks (at the club)… and a lack of proper audits (which led to the commission of the offences),” the judge noted.

As their sentences were read out, the packed courtroom — filled with family and friends — broke out into gasps.

Cheo kept her eyes closed, and hung her head low. Nah, meanwhile, remained expressionless.

Cheo, represented by Mr Wee Pan Lee, commences her sentence immediately. Nah, represented by Mr Daniel Atticus Xu, will start his sentence on Jan 15, as he has an urgent medical appointment.

The Keppel Club membership scam, which spanned some 11 years from 2004 to 2014, saw 1,341 people duped by the Cheo, Nah and Setho into paying a total of about $$37.5 million for non-existent memberships at the golf and country club.

As supervisor of the membership department at the time of the offences, Nah worked under Setho, and was responsible for creating membership accounts into the club’s electronic membership database.

The 113-year-old club, Singapore’s oldest, had stopped issuing new memberships since 1996, but allowed existing members to sell their memberships.

Seller and buyer need to agree on a price, which includes a S$12,000 fixed transfer fee. An account activation fee of between S$300 and S$530 will be paid to the club. The balance of the sum will go to the seller.

Setho, and other membership agents, would inform prospective buyers that there were memberships available for transfer.

In the scam, the “sellers” Setho put forward included Cheo, Cheo’s daughter, mother and brother-in-law.

Cheo, who was Setho’s personal friend, was instructed by Setho to deposit the money into various accounts, then to withdraw the money and hand the cash to Setho.

Cheo would keep between S$500 and S$1,000 as commission for each registration, pocketing at least S$151,500 in total from 2010 to 2014.

Nah was then instructed by Setho to create the new membership accounts in an electronic database.

From 2004 to 2014, buyers each paid between S$26,500 and S$41,500 for these “phantom” memberships.

For falsifying accounts, Nah could have been sentenced up to 10 years, and/or fined, per charge.

For money laundering, Cheo could have also been sentenced up to 10 years, and/or fined up to S$500,000, per charge.

Original Article here


Leave a reply