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Former UOB personal banker jailed for cheating, forgery; clients lost S$500,000

[SINGAPORE] A personal banker with United Overseas Bank (UOB) took liberties with his clients' funds through a range of schemes, including misselling policies and buying unauthorised policies under their name, causing nine clients to suffer nearly S$500,000 in losses.

Nguyen Duy Minh, 29, who is no longer with the bank, committed the offences involving more than S$1.1million in total between September 2013 and December 2014.

Minh pleaded guilty in March to nine forgery-related charges and three counts of cheating.

On Thursday, the Vietnamese national was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail. He had also admitted to one count each of criminal breach of trust and dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct. Thirty other charges - mainly for similar offences - were taken into consideration during sentencing.

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Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi told the court that Minh had earned more than S$74,000 in commissions from the sales of unauthorised investments and policies.

Minh joined UOB in January 2013 and his crime spree began about seven months later.

In August 2013, one of the bank's customers, Mr Chan Yew Thong, told Minh he wanted to obtain a banker's guarantee for $40,000.

Minh recommended a financial product purportedly offered by UOB which consisted of a fixed deposit, an insurance policy and an entitlement to a banker's guarantee application. This financial product did not exist, said DPP Hon.

Mr Chan, who fell for the ruse,signed the necessary forms and handed Minh a cheque, dated Sept 3, for $41,000.

Minh deposited it into Mr Chan's UOB savings account before using the funds to buy two insurance policies under Mr Chan's name without his knowledge.

Mr Chan only found out what Minh had done after he detected irregularities in the banker's guarantee. He also found out about the two policies bought in his name.

He made a police report on Oct 21, 2014 and the Commercial Affairs Department started an investigation into the case.

The court heard that by using a similar method, Minh cheated other clients, including a fellow Vietnamese, Ms Le Thi Cam Pu.

In March 2014, he recommended to her a supposed investment in a Singapore Government bond for US$300,000 (about S$400,000) even though UOB did not offer the financial product at that time. After the money was deposited, he made purchases from the Templeton Global Bond Fund under her name, but without her knowledge.

Earlier, in February, Minh had a cheque book linked to her UOB account sent to his home. He committed forgery between September and December 2014 by issuing cheques amounting to $181,500 in total to four people. DPP Hon said that Minh had made no restitution.

Before handing down sentence on Thursday, District Judge Marvin Bay said Minh's "offences affected the delivery of financial services and the integrity of the economic infrastructure".

"It would be essential to deter other members of the concerned trade profession from committing similar offences," he added.