Man gets 10 years in jail for role in $6 million car import scam

Man gets 10 years in jail for role in $6 million car import scam
Some people people gathering outside Volks Auto at Macpherson on 15 December 2014. Car buyers were drawn to prices advertised by Volks Auto that were $10,000 lower than prevailing rates. They had each paid $20,000 to $30,000 in down payments to the company, which is now closed.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A 35-year-old man was jailed for 10 years on Friday (Feb 17) for his involvement in what is likely to be the largest cheating case in the car industry to date, involving the heftiest losses - $6,163,772.

In all, 182 people were cheated between May and December 2014.

Koh Chek Seng pleaded guilty to 17 counts of cheating and one count of each of converting and transferring benefits of criminal conduct.

He also admitted to one count of removing benefits of criminal conduct from jurisdiction.

In March 2014, Koh Chek Seng and two alleged accomplices - Alvin Loo Mun Yu and Jason Koh Chi Kang, both 36 years old - had a discussion on how to earn cash by setting up a company dealing with parallel import cars.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ng Jean Ting said Jason Koh then suggested that if the company failed, the Singaporean trio would flee with customers' deposits and close the company to make it appear as a failed business.

A company known as Volks Auto was formed on April 1 that year with Loo as the sole director and shareholder.

The company had two bank accounts and he was the sole authorised signatory of both of them.

The following month, the firm began operations at a showroom at MacPherson Road.

Read also: Volks Auto saga: Anger grows, dealership boss missing

Koh Chek Seng then arranged for the vehicles including a Mercedes E-Class and a Porsche Boxter to be placed there. Several sales staff were also recruited.

DPP Ng said: "Through the trio and the recruited salespersons, it was represented to the customers that the company will procure the cars ordered through direct imports into Singapore.

"Although customers placed orders for cars and made their deposit payments to the company, no effort was made to fulfil these orders."

The court heard that Jason Koh and Koh Chek Seng received payouts from Loo for their roles in the conspiracy, with the latter earning at least $450,000.

None of the victims received the cars they ordered and the trio fled Singapore before the first police report was made on Dec 13, 2014.

By Dec 16 that year, one of the company's bank accounts was cleaned out while another was left with only $4,138.98 inside.

Koh Chek Seng returned to Singapore on Dec 23, 2015 and was arrested at the airport.

His two alleged accomplices remain at large and to date, no restitution has been made.

For each cheating charge, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.

This article was first published on Feb 17, 2017.
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