Singapore

Man jailed 10 years for cheating car buyers of $6m

Three Singaporeans cheated 182 people of more than $6 million in what may be the largest cheating case in the local car industry's history.

They had set up a company in 2014 that purportedly imported cars and collected money from buyers but did not deliver a single vehicle.

Instead, they took the money and fled the country.

Yesterday, one of the trio, Koh Chek Seng, 35, was jailed for 10 years after he pleaded guilty to 17 counts of cheating and one count each of converting and transferring the benefits of criminal conduct.

He also admitted to removing the benefits of criminal conduct from jurisdiction.

The trio cheated their victims of $6,163,772 between May and December 2014.

SET UP TO FAIL

In March that year, Koh Chek Seng and his alleged accomplices - Alvin Loo Mun Yu and Jason Koh Chi Kang, both 36 - discussed how to make money by setting up a company dealing with parallel imported cars.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting said Jason Koh suggested if the company "failed", they would close it and flee with customers' deposits.

A company known as Volks Auto was formed on April 1 that year, with Loo as the sole director and shareholder. It had two bank accounts and he was the sole authorised signatory for both.

The next month, Volks began operations at a showroom in MacPherson Road.

Koh Chek Seng arranged for cars to be placed there. Sales staff were also recruited.

DPP Ng said although customers paid the deposit to the company, "no effort was made to fulfil the orders".

The firm did not apply for car importation with the Singapore Customs. It also did not bid for any certificates of entitlement. None of the victims received the cars.

The court heard that Loo rewarded his accomplices and Koh Chek Seng received at least $450,000. Loo left Singapore on Dec 5, 2014, while the two others fled a week later.

DPP Ng said the first police report was made on Dec 13. By Dec 16, one bank account was cleaned out while another had only $4,138.98 left in it.

Koh Chek Seng returned to Singapore on Dec 23, 2015, and was arrested at Changi Airport. His alleged accomplices remain at large and to date, no restitution has been made.

His lawyer Cheryl Ng asked for a sentence under 10 years, saying he played a minor role.

"Mr Koh returned to Singapore to face the music despite knowing that he was wanted," she added.

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