Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Jail for bank employee who pocketed S$1.1m by replacing notes in safe with counterfeits, paper

SINGAPORE —While working as a banking operations specialist, Tan Chen Yen seized the chance to siphon off more than S$1 million in cash from his employer to feed his gambling habit or repay his debts.

Jail for bank employee who pocketed S$1.1m by replacing notes in safe with counterfeits, paper

The court heard that euros were among the foreign currency notes that Tan Chen Yen misappropriated from the bank's safe.

  • Tan Chen Yen misappropriated currency notes from his employer’s safe over two years
  • The banking operations specialist would replace genuine notes with counterfeit or blank ones, some of which he bought online
  • He used the ill-gotten cash to gamble or repay his debts, among others
  • He also recorded false entries in the bank’s record-keeping software to hide his crimes

SINGAPORE —While working as a banking operations specialist, Tan Chen Yen seized the chance to siphon off more than S$1 million in cash from his employer to feed his gambling habit or repay his debts.

His offences came to light when a colleague found an envelope full of blank sheets of paper, cut into the shape of currency notes, that Tan had put in a safe to replace the notes he had taken.

Tan, 38, was sentenced to seven years and five months’ jail on Monday (Dec 20) for his crimes from 2016 to 2018.

He pleaded guilty in a district court to six charges, including criminal breach of trust by a servant, with another 14 similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.

The court heard that he was employed by Bank Pictet & Cie (Asia) from February 2015 till August 2018. The bank maintained a safe on its premises which contained notes in US dollars, British pounds, euros, Swiss francs and Singapore dollars.

Tan bore primary responsibility for the safe and performed tasks such as ordering notes from United Overseas Bank (UOB) to replenish the number of notes in the safe when the supply ran low.

From late 2016 to August 2018, he used two main modus operandi for his offences.

After ordering notes from UOB, he would pocket them and place bundles of counterfeit notes or blank sheets of paper in the safe instead.

The court further heard that he had visited a website where people could buy counterfeit cash, purchasing 500 pieces of 200-euro fake notes and replacing genuine notes in the safe with these.

Tan’s second method was used when customers sought to make cash withdrawals from their accounts.

When he was entrusted with removing the appropriate amount of money from the safe, he removed more cash than what the customers wanted before pocketing the excess amount.

Fortunately, the accused did not give counterfeit notes to customers or allow them to otherwise enter circulation. This would have damaged public confidence in Singapore’s banking system and drastically increased the level of harm caused.
Deputy Public Prosecutor David Menon

In June 2018, Tan went to a money exchange business at The Arcade along Orchard Road. He exchanged 5,000 euros and 5,000 British pounds, which he had taken from the safe, for about S$17,000.

The next month, he converted more than 4,000 euros — about S$6,900 — to buy casino chips and other gaming instruments at the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort casino.

Around that time, Pictet’s risk team told Tan’s supervisor that the total value of notes in the safe exceeded the S$1 million insurance coverage. The team then recommended reducing the number of notes in the safe.

Tan’s boss then told him to deposit S$100,000 in cash from the safe into Pictet’s UOB account, but Tan had taken so much money that the safe did not contain enough cash.

He ended up depositing S$21,000 in cash, then made fund transfers from the bank’s overseas accounts to make up for the remaining sum. He then lied in the bank’s accounting and record-keeping software that he had done what his boss asked him to do.

On Aug 30, 2018, a Pictet employee found an envelope with blank sheets of paper in the safe and reported this to the chief operations officer, who ordered a physical count of the notes in the safe.

After learning about this, Tan confessed his misdeeds to his boss.

The bank eventually found that almost all the notes in the safe had been replaced, with Tan having misappropriated S$1.13 million.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) David Menon told the court that Tan made “belated restitution” of about S$62,000 on Dec 21, 2018.

However, while the contents of the safe were insured, the insurance only covered robbery and not misappropriation by an employee. Pictet was thus unable to recover most of the money Tan had taken, the prosecutor added.

“Fortunately, the accused did not give counterfeit notes to customers or allow them to otherwise enter circulation. This would have damaged public confidence in Singapore’s banking system and drastically increased the level of harm caused,” DPP Menon added.

The prosecutor also noted that an Institute of Mental Health report stated that there was no causal link between Tan’s gambling disorder and his actions.

Those convicted of criminal breach of trust by a servant can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

Related topics

court crime criminal breach of trust bank

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa