Singapore

Mastermind of $37.5m Keppel Club scam pleads guilty

Woman duped 1,341 people into paying $37.5 million for fake memberships

Over 10 years, Keppel Club employee Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, would tell prospective buyers there were club memberships available for transfer.

Instead of paying the club directly, the buyers would be instructed to make payment to third parties, including Setho's friend, and this accomplice's family members.

A supervisor at the membership department would enter these buyers' names into the database and issue them with membership cards.

In total - between June 1, 2004, and Aug 1, 2014 - Setho duped 1,341 people into paying about $37.5 million for fake memberships.

Yesterday, Setho, 70, pleaded guilty to 60 counts of cheating.

Her two accomplices, membership department supervisor Nah Hak Chuah and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, both 67, admitted to their roles in the scam on Nov 30.

According to the charges Setho pleaded guilty to, the buyers paid between $26,500 and $41,500 each.

They were directed to pay the purchase prices and transfer fees to third parties, including Cheo, her daughter, mother and brother-in-law.

Cheo's three family members were not club members.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said: "These buyers or their nominees were able to enter Keppel Club and make use of the club facilities as they were issued with membership cards and their details had been entered into the system.

"They did not realise what went on behind the scenes at the membership department."

Investigations revealed that Setho received at least $11 million from the offences.

The court heard that besides the 60 counts of cheating, Setho has 3,121 other charges that will be considered during sentencing.

DPP Hon said Setho worked at Keppel Club for nearly 48 years from 1966. Setho, who now moves around in a wheelchair, started off as a general clerk and was promoted through the ranks. She was a personal assistant to the general manager when she committed the offences.

The general manager, who oversaw membership matters, reported Setho to the police on Aug 13, 2014.

Setho is out on bail of $300,000 and will be back in court on Feb 9 next year.

Offenders convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each charge.

COURT & CRIME