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Friday, December 2, 2022
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CORRUPTED EX-BANK OFFICER JAILED FOR SETTING UP BANK ACCOUNTS TO RECIEVE ILL-GOTTEN GAINS

On 19 July 2022, a 35-year-old former bank officer, Phua Wee Hao (“Phua”), was convicted of one count of an offence under the Corruption Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act and two counts of abetting others to fail to exercise reasonable diligence in the discharge of their duties as a director

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He was sentenced to eight months and one-week imprisonment and a fine of $8,000.

Investigations revealed that Phua had assisted a corporate service provider to recruit local resident directors for the purpose of incorporating shell companies and setting up corporate bank accounts for these shell companies.

Thereafter, control over the corporate bank accounts was handed over to an unidentified individual based overseas, who was believed to be engaged in criminal conduct. One of these corporate bank accounts was subsequently used to receive benefits from criminal conduct amounting to USD $44,393.45.

Investigations also revealed that the local resident directors, whom Phua had recruited, failed to act honestly and exercise reasonable diligence in the discharge of their duties as directors of the shell companies.

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Under Section 44(1)(a) of the CDSA, a person who enters into or is otherwise concerned in an arrangement, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that, by the arrangement, the retention or control by or on behalf of that other person’s benefits of criminal conduct is facilitated, and knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that that other person is a person who engages in or has engaged in criminal conduct or has benefited from criminal conduct shall be liable on conviction, to a fine not exceeding $500,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

Under Section 157(1) of the Companies Act, a director who fails to act honestly and use reasonable diligence in the discharge of the duties of his office shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months. Under Section 109 of the Penal Code, whoever abets any offence shall be sentenced to the punishment provided for the offence.

The Police take a serious view of these offences and will not relent in taking tough enforcement action against such offenders. Individuals who act as directors of companies must be mindful of their duties as directors. Company directors who fail to exercise reasonable diligence in the discharge of their duties as directors run the risk of allowing their companies to facilitate the retention of benefits derived from criminal conduct.

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