2 charged with cheating state boards' co-op of $5m

Two women who had worked at one of Singapore's oldest cooperative societies were hauled to court yesterday to face hundreds of charges of cheating and other offences involving $5.1 million.

Arni Ahmad, 41, then an assistant manager, was charged with 467 counts, while former administrative executive Hanati Jani, 49, was slapped with 275 charges.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin told the court that this was a case of massive public institutional fraud involving the Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' Cooperative Thrift and Loan Society.

The cooperative is regulated by the Cooperative Societies Act and is registered with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Founded in 1925, the co-op has at least 1,000 members who are permanent employees of several statutory boards.

Thrift and loan co-ops generally take in deposits and grant loans to members.

The co-ops operate on a self-financing basis, where members pay a small entrance fee and put in a regular monthly sum.

DPP Chin said that between 2008 and 2013, the duo submitted forged forms from phantom members and cheated the co-op into disbursing money amounting to a staggering $5.1 million.

He said Arni and Hanati then laundered the money through a network of phantom members and the money was eventually channelled back to themselves.

The charges they face are cheating, conspiracy to cheat, forgery, criminal breach of trust (CBT) by a servant, scheming to commit CBT, acquiring the benefits of criminal conduct and using the benefits of criminal conduct.

Arni, who was unrepresented, said she intends to get a Criminal Legal Aid Scheme lawyer.

Hanati's lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh, asked for six weeks' adjournment to take instructions.

The women were each offered bail of $1 million in one surety or $500,000 in two sureties.

Their passports have been impounded.

District Judge Christopher Goh adjourned the case to Jan 25.


This article was first published on December 22, 2016.
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