SINGAPORE: The duo involved in a S$37.5 million Keppel Club membership scam received jail sentences on Wednesday (Jan 10).
Club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin was sentenced to 4.5 years’ jail and the club’s supervisor Nah Hak Chuah, was sentenced to three years’ jail.
They had helped mastermind Setho Oi Lin, otherwise known as Irene Setho, deceive 1,341 people into paying a total of about S$37.5 million for non-existent memberships at the country club.
In his sentencing remarks, Principal District Judge Bala Reddy said it was clear that there were “inadequate checks” and “a lack of proper audits” at the club, which led to the offences being undetected for a long period of time.
The prosecution had asked for at least three years’ imprisonment for Nah as the “sheer number of (Nah’s) offences was an egregious breach of corporate integrity”.
In mitigation, Nah's lawyer Daniel Atticus Xu said that he had a “timid and submissive personality” and was “adhering to his supervisor’s (Setho’s) instructions” in entering the false data.
Nah was also suicidal after the death of his wife in 2008, around the same time the bulk of the offences were committed. He was later diagnosed to have depression and the condition was exacerbated by the death of several other family members. Mr Xu added that Nah also did not intend to, and did not financially benefit from the act.
Cheo will commence her sentence on Wednesday while Nah will begin his on Jan 15 as he has to attend an urgent medical appointment.
Court documents stated that since 1996, the club had stopped issuing new memberships, but allowed existing members to sell their memberships. The mutually agreed price included a S$12,000 fixed transfer fee, and an account activation fee of between S$300 and S$530 which will be paid to the club. But Setho started selling fake club memberships from 2004, sourcing for buyers on her own or through membership agents.
Between June 2004 and August 2014, Nah created 1,280 false entries in the club’s electronic membership database. The buyers had been duped into buying the memberships from phantom members. The entries were made without a corresponding deactivation of any existing member’s account.
Cheo received the payment for the membership transfers on behalf of Setho. From Feb 23, 2010 to July 31, 2014, Cheo helped Setho transfer S$6.1 million and kept at least S$151,500 as commission payments.
Setho is out on bail of S$300,000 and will be back in court on Feb 9.