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MAS slaps 5- to 9-year bans on 3 ex-insurance agents, 1 ex-banker for fraud

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued prohibition orders (POs) against three former insurance agents, and a former bank employee for fraudulent and dishonest conduct.

The four individuals are: Edwin Teh Chin Hong and Joseph Michael, who were from Great Eastern Life Assurance (GE); Aloysius Zephaniah Lim Bing Hong, who was from Prudential Assurance Co Singapore; and Ng Wei Ling, a former employee of United Overseas Bank (UOB).

In a statement on Friday, the regulator said it has issued a nine-year PO against Teh, an eight-year PO against Ng, and five-year POs each against Michael and Lim. The POs took effect from Friday.

According to MAS, Teh misappropriated and cheated about S$350,000 from seven clients over a period of three years, on the pretext of helping them to invest their monies, or pay for their insurance premiums. For this, he was charged with criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery under the Penal Code (PC). He was convicted in March 2018, and was sentenced to 34 months' imprisonment.

Michael, who was also from GE, misappropriated about S$15,000 from a client under the ruse that the money would be used to pay for insurance premiums. He was convicted of criminal breach of trust in August 2016 and sentenced to 10 weeks' jail.

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Similarly, ex-Prudential agent Lim cheated a client of close to S$10,000 by misleading the client to transfer monies to him under the pretext of paying for insurance policies when those policies had already lapsed. Even after he had left the company, Lim continued to falsely represent himself out as a Prudential agent for nearly two more years, during which time he continued to deceive the client into transferring money to him. In March 2018, Lim was convicted of cheating offences and sentenced to 14 weeks' imprisonment.

Former UOB personal banker Ng cheated seven clients of S$215,000 over 18 months on the pretext of helping them invest in a fixed deposit promotion the bank was offering, or buying an insurance policy.

She instructed them to pass her cash, or transfer funds to a bank account which she claimed was used for the fixed deposit promotion, MAS said. However, these funds were transferred into Ng's personal bank account, and she also forged the signatures of two clients on insurance application forms. Ng was convicted of cheating and forgery and sentenced to 20 months' jail in April this year.

Under the POs, Ng is prohibited from providing financial advisory services, or taking part in the management, acting as a director, or becoming a substantial shareholder of any financial advisory firm under the Financial Advisers Act (FAA). On top of these prohibitions, Teh, Michael and Lim are also banned from carrying on business as, or taking part in the management of, any insurance intermediary under the Insurance Act (IA).

Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director of policy, payments & financial crime at MAS, said: "Those who provide financial services to the public must be trustworthy. The four individuals convicted abused the trust that their customers placed in them, and enriched themselves at their customers’ expense. MAS will not tolerate such behaviour, and will take decisive action to keep such individuals out of the industry."

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