Employee who cheated bank gets jail term cut

A former private bank relationship manager, who cheated his employer of $2.5 million by forging clients' signatures, yesterday had 10 months shaved off his original jail term of 51/2 years, on appeal.

Cutting his prison term to four years and eight months, the High Court agreed with Yap Chee Yen's lawyer that the district judge who sentenced him had failed to take into account the substantial amounts of money recovered from him. This meant that the actual net loss suffered by the bank, Clariden Leu - which has since merged with Credit Suisse - amounted to about $900,000.

The district judge had determined the bank's losses to be $1.9 million after it had compensated the two clients and recovered some other money, but did not consider the $370,000 Yap made in restitution and the $670,000 seized from him by the police.

Yap, 37, who is currently serving his sentence, made unauthorised transfers from two of his clients' accounts between October 2009 and October 2011.

He cut out their signatures from previous transfer instructions and pasted them onto new fund transfer instructions he had prepared earlier.

He then faxed these instructions from one machine in the office to another, to make the documents look as if they had been faxed to him by the clients.

Over the two years, Yap transferred $2.5 million from these two accounts to the accounts of his other clients as well as his British Virgin Islands company, Threesixfive Capital. Yap then transferred these fraudulent funds to his own or other clients' accounts.

He spent the money on personal expenses, such as a luxury watch and a vehicle, and investments in shares. Last year, he pleaded guilty to five counts of forgery and three counts of transferring benefits of criminal conduct.

Appealing for a lighter sentence yesterday, Yap's lawyer, Senior Counsel Philip Jeyaretnam, argued that the district judge was wrong to compute the bank's losses without taking into account the sums recovered.

This article was first published on December 20, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.