Man jailed for role in money laundering scam

A 50-YEAR-OLD former assistant project manager was jailed for 24 months yesterday for money laundering offences committed two years ago.

In all, Chua Kok Hin received about $470,000 which he had reason to believe was stolen property. He transferred $466,000 out of Singapore.

Chua pleaded guilty to five charges and had 12 others taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Yau Pui Man said that some time in April 2012, Chua came to know one "Rosina Carr'' on the Internet. They started chatting actively but have never met.

Investigations showed that the following month, Rosina told Chua she did not have a bank account in Malaysia, and asked him to open one in Singapore to help her receive funds for her business in Malaysia.

After Chua did so, he provided her his OCBC account details.

On June 21, 2012, a sum of US$60,000 (S$76,000) was fraudulently transferred from American Susan Price Hollern's bank account in the United States to Chua's OCBC account.

Ms Hollern, 51, later reported to police that her e-mail account had been hacked and a fraudulent transfer made to Chua's account in Singapore, when she had no dealings with anyone here.

As instructed by Rosina, Chua withdrew $72,000 from the account the next day and left for Malaysia. He deposited the sum into a Hong Leong Bank account.

Three days later, another amount of $279,125 was fraudulently transferred from Talya Investments to Chua's account.

Of this amount, Rosina told Chua to transfer $150,000 into a bank account in Malaysia.

Chua complied and handed over the sum on June 27 to his co-worker Ngo Soon Kiong, 35, who deposited it into the same Hong Leong account in Johor Baru.

Investigations showed Rosina instructed Chua to deposit another sum of $115,000 into three bank accounts in Malaysia.

Chua's lawyer, Vinit Chhabra, said in mitigation that his client was used by a person who claimed to be a woman.

The woman sent many e-mail messages to Chua, expressing romantic interest in him.

Counsel said Chua did it for friendship, did not benefit financially and regretted that he was manipulated and used by the person claiming to be one "Rosina Carr".

He said Chua, who has three grown children, had learnt a hard but valuable lesson.

District Judge Tan Boon Heng said the sheer amout of money received and transferred should have rung alarm bells, and that the punishment imposed must send a strong deterrent.

Chua could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined for each charge of dishonestly receiving stolen property.

The maximum penalty for transferring property which directly represents benefits from criminal conduct is a $500,000 fine and seven years' jail on each charge.

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