Singapore

71-year-old mastermind of Keppel Club scam jailed 12 years

Woman duped 1,341 people into paying $37.5 million in total for fake memberships from 2004 to 2014

The mastermind behind the Keppel Club membership scam was sentenced to 12 years' jail yesterday, in line with the jail term of 12 to 13 years that the prosecution had sought.

Setho Oi Lin had duped 1,341 people into paying $37.5 million in total for fake memberships from 2004 to 2014.

The 71-year-old, also known as Setho Irene, got at least $10.5 million from the offences. She pleaded guilty to 60 counts of cheating on Dec 4 last year.

She was granted bail of $300,000 so she could go for a medical appointment and will start her jail term on May 7.

Deputy presiding judge Jennifer Marie pointed out Setho's "flagrant and methodical disregard of the law".

"(She) chose to embark on a life of crime in her late 50s and masterminded a scheme using the trust her employers - the same employers she had worked for for over 40 years - instilled in her," she said.

Setho partnered former membership department supervisor Nah Hak Chuah and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin to sell fake memberships.

Last week, the court heard that Setho had reached a settlement to pay the club $3.65 million in restitution.

Her lawyers Philip Fong and Lynn Wong had pleaded for a jail term of seven years in the light of her age and health. They submitted medical reports that said Setho suffers from severe spinal problems and needs help with daily tasks, on top of conditions including diabetes.

The reports said she would not survive a 10-year jail term.

Judge Marie said: "While it is unfortunate (Setho) will spend her twilight years in prison... the message from the court must be clear and unequivocal."

Setho started working at Keppel Club in 1966.

As part of the scam, she would tell buyers there were club memberships for transfer.

The buyers were asked to make payments to third parties, including Cheo. Nah made false entries in the club's electronic database to enable non-existent memberships to be sold. This enabled buyers or their nominees to enter the club .

Nah and Cheo, both 67, were jailed on Jan 10 for three years and 4½ years respectively.

COURT & CRIME