Bank exec cheated Khoo Teck Puat's daughter of $2m

SINGAPORE - A former bank relationship manager who cheated the daughter of late banker-philanthropist Khoo Teck Puat out of $2 million was jailed for six years yesterday.

While working for Deutsche Bank, Bernard Lim Seng Soon, 39, persuaded 79-year-old Madam Khoo Bee See to take out a short-term loan to fund an investment product - but this was a fake and the $2 million was paid into his wife's account.

He pleaded guilty to six of 18 charges including transferring and converting his ill-gotten benefits to buy shares and pay off gambling debts and other loans.

Lim has paid back the money to Madam Khoo - whose father was once the wealthiest man in Singapore.

In one charge taken into consideration, Lim also cheated Madam Khoo's sister, Bee Leng, out of $2 million in 2011. He has also paid her back the money.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhamad Imaduddien Abdul Karim said Lim worked for Deutsche Bank from April 2010 to October 2011, while his wife, Ms Jaime Ho Ai Lin, 36, was a private banking officer with RBS Coutts & Co and had a staff account in Hong Kong.

Mr Muhamad Imaduddien said that for all communications on details of new investment products for Madam Khoo Bee See, Lim would contact one Rosie Cheong, who would relay the message to Madam Khoo.

On Sept 24, 2010, Lim spoke about the investment product to Ms Cheong, who was unaware it was fake, and she passed the message to Madam Khoo. Three days later, Madam Khoo agreed to a proposal to take up a loan for the investment.

In a signed instruction letter which Madam Khoo returned, Lim asked his assistant to write that it was "for pty (property) purchase" on it.

"This was done so as not to arouse any suspicions from his line manager at Deutsche Bank as it was not unusual for clients to withdraw large amounts of funds for property purchases," said the DPP.

After the cashier's order was credited into his wife's account, Lim subsequently withdrew various amounts for his personal gain.

The Commercial Affairs Department received a complaint in November 2011, alleging that Lim may have cheated Madam Khoo.

In passing sentence, District Judge Salina Ishak said there was a degree of planning over a period of time. She said Lim took advantage of a procedural loophole at RBS, abused his position of trust and preyed on his friendship with the client of three years. He could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined for cheating. For the other five offences, he could have been fined up to $500,000 and/or jailed for up to seven years on each charge.

 


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