Sergeant got soldier to transfer funds for loan sharks

A master sergeant who roped in a subordinate to help him transfer funds for loan sharks was jailed for five months and given a fine of $60,000 on Monday.

If Tock Yong Keng fails to pay the fine, he will have to serve another two months behind bars.

Tock, 30, pleaded guilty to two charges of assisting a loan shark by opening and using a POSB account and using a United Overseas Bank ATM card in the name of Private Ryan Thomas Mission, 19.

Three other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that Tock borrowed a total of $20,000 from 40 loan sharks in April over football betting losses.

He was unable to pay the money back, so he started transferring funds for one of the loan sharks by the name of Elven through a POSB account he opened on May 14. Tock received $400 a week from Elven and used it to pay the other loan sharks, a method designed to avoid detection.

Tock was not free to do the transfers on weekends because he had to spend time with his pregnant wife and three-year-old child. So he roped in Pte Mission, whom he thought was short on cash, to open a UOB account on May 22.

Pte Mission, who was a full-time national serviceman, was paid $50 for each day he assisted in the fund transfers.

Defence counsel Ravinderpal Singh told the court that Tock was financially strapped and had been pressured to commit the offences because of threats to his family. He noted that Tock has been suspended from the army and will soon be dismissed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong pointed out that Tock's financial difficulty was "his own making through gambling" and said he should be punished for "abusing his position of authority".

District Judge Lee Poh Choo said that "this was no simple case of handing over an ATM card to a loan shark". The sentence should reflect that Tock had "actively assisted" the unlicensed moneylenders by performing the fund transfers, she added.

He could have been fined up to $300,000 and jailed for four years on each charge.

Pte Mission has not been charged.

khush@sph.com.sg


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