Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Former accountant admits siphoning more than $2million from employers

SINGAPORE – An accountant who worked for two companies dealing with steel products abused his position for 6 1/2 years, siphoning more than $2 million from the firms.

Yeo Yong Heng used his ill-gotten gains to buy shares, a Toyota Wish car as well two apartments in Amber Road and Jalan Dusun near Balestier Road.

The 53-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty in court on Thursday (Jan 24) to 250 charges for offences including cheating, criminal breach of trust and money laundering. A whopping 616 other charges will be considered during sentencing.

Yeo worked for Steel Industries from 1996 to 2013 and Malaysia-based S.I Stainless from 2011 to 2013. One of the directors of Steel Industries, Singaporean Ong Soon Liong, also ran S. I. Stainless, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stacey Fernandez said that Steel Industries had three banks accounts and Mr Ong was its sole authorised signatory.

Yeo was entrusted with chequebooks from the three banks. His job included preparing cheques and payments vouchers as well as collecting payments on behalf of Steel Industries.

Between Dec 29, 2006 and June 22, 2013, Yeo duped Mr Ong into issuing cheques from Steel Industries for purported company-related expenses and advances made by the firm to other parties.

He deceived Mr Ong by handing the latter cheques bearing fictitious payments and supported his deception by showing false payment vouchers.

DPP Fernandez said: “Yeo thus deceived Ong into believing that the amounts stated in the cheques were for legitimate expenses incurred by, and advances to be made by Steel Industries. Yeo thereby dishonestly induced Ong to authorise payments of the amounts indicated in the cheques, and to deliver these signed cheques to Yeo.”

By using a similar method, Yeo also cheated Mr Ong by using cheques from S. I. Stainless.

In 2013, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) received a suspicious transaction report linked to Yeo’s bank, stating that at least 26 cheques issued by Steel Industries for more than $300,000 in total had been deposited into his accounts between October 2012 and March that year.

His offences were uncovered by a CAD investigation and the court heard that Yeo has since made a full restitution after selling the two properties.

DPP Fernandez urged District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan to sentence Yeo to four years in jail. She added: “Other like-minded persons should know that such blatant abuse of a position of trust, and relentless reaching into their employer’s coffers to pursue personal gain, will be dealt with harshly.”

Defence lawyer Vincent Yeoh pleaded for his client to be sentenced to a year and eight months’ jail, stressing that Yeo’s methods in carrying out his offences were “crude” and not difficult to detect.

Yeo, who is no longer employed by the firms, is now out on bail of $40,000 and will be sentenced on Feb 13.

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