Woman jailed for stealing S$1.6m from employer

Woman jailed for stealing S$1.6m from employer
Photo: Reuters

Woman jailed for stealing S$1.6m from employer

She pilfered the sum over a period of six years to pay off husband’s gambling debts

SINGAPORE — She forged her boss’ signature on 159 cheques over a span of six years and made off with more than S$1.6 million. 

Wong Huey Min, a former accounts executive at Royal Garment Factory, was on Tuesday (Sept 12) sentenced to 7½ years (90 months) in jail after pleading guilty last month to 20 counts of forgery.

Another 139 similar charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Wong Li Tein for her sentencing.

According to court documents, most of the money siphoned was used to pay off her husband’s gambling debts, although no details were given

Wong, 55, has made no restitution so far. Her lawyer said she would be appealing against her sentence.

Wong, who was in charge of the company’s chequebooks, devised a plan sometime in 2009 to forge her boss’ signature on cheques, with the intention of siphoning the money for herself or her husband, whose identity was not mentioned in court documents.

The court heard that she was also entrusted with the chequebooks of Royal Realty, another company run by the same owner, Mr Heng Yang How. 

The following year, she was given full control over Royal Garment Factory’s finances.

When Mr Heng asked to view the company’s accounts, Wong would claim that everything was under control. 

Red flags surfaced in 2013, when the bank statements of the two companies did not tally with records of company accounts kept by Wong.

To cover up, she forged bank statements by printing out figures from a computer and pasting them on the original bank statements, before photocopying the documents, said the prosecution, which sought a jail term of at least eight years.

In 2015, a shareholder of Royal Garment smelled a rat and lodged a police report. Wong had pocketed some S$1.67 million by then. Defence lawyer Diana Ngiam said that Wong was remorseful for her actions. 

The district judge noted that the amount pocketed was high, and that Wong was “only able to do so because of the high levels of trust” vested in her by her boss. 

She was “systematic” and “persistent” and “knew how to take (the money) without detection”, said DJ Wong, who also noted the prolonged period over which the offences were carried out and the lack of restitution.

Wong’s case had been adjourned from Aug 24, when she was convicted, so that she could carry out a transfer of property to repay the funds taken. This was part of an agreement with her former company, but the court heard on Tuesday that Wong would not be doing so.

Wong’s request to defer her sentence to Oct 2 — so she could complete serving the one month’s notice with her current employer — was also rejected by the judge, who said she should have resigned earlier.