Mastermind of Keppel Club’s multi-million dollar membership scam pleads guilty

Mastermind of Keppel Club’s multi-million dollar membership scam pleads guilty

Keppel Club
An aerial view of Keppel Club's golf course. (Photo: Keppel Club)

SINGAPORE: The 70-year-old woman behind Keppel Club’s multi-million dollar membership scandal has pleaded guilty to 60 out of 3,181 charges of cheating. She is accused of selling fake memberships to more than 1,000 people to the tune of nearly S$37.5 million. 

Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, had worked at Keppel Club for 48 years. She started off as a clerk and rose through the ranks to become the personal assistant to the general manager, who handled membership transfers, enrolments and resignations.

Keppel Club stopped selling transferable memberships in 1989. To become a member, a person must buy the membership from an existing member at a mutually agreed price, which must include a S$12,000 transfer fee and an account activation fee.

Setho started to sell phantom memberships in 2014. Over 11 years, she sold 1,341 memberships worth more than S$37 million. Buyers were told that there were memberships available for transfer when in fact, none of the memberships would be transferred from existing members of Keppel Club, according to its policy.

Of this sum, Setho pocketed at least S$11 million, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ian Ernst Chai said.

Setho told buyers to make payments to four bank accounts controlled by her friend Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, who is also a club member. Cheo, 67, would then withdraw the money – pocketing S$500 to S$1,000 as commission – before handing the rest to Setho.

To create accounts for new members, Setho turned to her colleague Nah Hak Chuah, 67, whom she had worked with since 1991. Between June 2004 and August 2014, Nah created 1,280 accounts for buyers of phantom memberships.

Cheo and Nah have been convicted of 20 and 30 charges respectively for their roles in the scandal. They will be sentenced in January.

Setho will be sentenced in February. She faces up to 10 years’ jail and a fine per charge of cheating,

Source: CNA/kc