Company director sentenced to 11 years in prison for embezzling more than S$5m from selling gold bars

SINGAPORE: A company director was sentenced on Friday March 4 to 11 years in prison for embezzling more than S$5 million and defrauding more than S$666,000 from several victims who had ordered gold bars.

Nguyen Thi Thu Lan, 51, was the director of Hans Global and the ‘directing mind and will’ of the company’s gold business, which involved supplying 1kg gold bars, according to court documents .

She was sentenced after pleading guilty to four counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of cheating and dishonest inducement to deliver goods. Nine other charges were considered.

The Vietnamese national did not cooperate with the police and did not disclose the whereabouts of the gold bars and embezzled money, according to the prosecution.

The court heard that Nguyen’s offenses began in August 2018. YNK, a gold company, agreed to buy 50 gold bars from him and transferred around S$2.5 million to the bank account. of Hans Global for purchase on August 30.

On the same day, Nguyen dishonestly converted approximately S$960,000 of YNK’s payment for his own use. She drew on that sum to issue a check for S$980,000 to a man named Visvanathan Govindasamy.

Between September and December of that year, she also used the money paid by YNK for later and separate orders to make up for the lack of gold bars resulting from her embezzlement of the first payment.

This way, she prevented YNK from discovering that her payment had been misappropriated. The company received a refund of just S$7,000 in January 2019.

She committed similar offenses against Singapore Island Resources. Around September 5, 2018, the company agreed to purchase 53 gold bars from Nguyen and transferred over S$2.6 million over the following days.

She used this money to buy 50 gold bars, but these were never delivered to Singapore Island Resources.

When the company questioned her, Nguyen gave an apology, saying there was a delay as she had to check each gold bar individually to ensure they were in good condition or her supplier refused to release. gold bars because a minimum order quantity had not been met.

Singapore Island Resources was only reimbursed S$10,000 in January 2019.

NEW COMPANY, OLD TRICK

In August 2018, Nguyen quit the gold business due to the disapproval of her husband, who is co-director of Hans Global. She incorporated a new company, SJC Joint Venture, to trade in gold instead.

Nguyen’s 26-year-old son-in-law was the sole director of SJC Joint Venture, but he followed her instructions and she ran the day-to-day operations of the business.

She carried out a similar ruse at this new company, embezzling more than S$1.2 million from four victims who bought gold bars from her.

Among them was Singapore Island Resources, which in December 2018 again paid almost S$320,000 for six gold bars which it never received.

Nguyen used S$220,000 from the payment to purchase three gold bars, but they were never delivered to Singapore Island Resources.

When chased by them, she gave more excuses like being busy and the vendor’s safe only opening on certain days. The company did not receive any refund for this purchase.

Another victim was ORO Trading, which paid over S$530,000 for 10 gold bars in December 2018.

Nguyen bought nine gold bars with this money, but they were never delivered to ORO Trading. The company only received S$10,000 in reimbursement in January 2019.

Asked about the delay, she again gave an apology, saying she had been wrongly stocked with many “small 1 gram bars” of gold.

FALSE CERTIFICATES

Nguyen also cheated the director of JAJ, a gold dealing company, and the director’s husband out of over S$666,000.

In January 2019, an acquaintance of Nguyen forwarded him a request from a JAJ official stating that the company wanted to buy gold bullion from SJC but wanted assurances that it would be able to deliver the gold.

On WhatsApp, she responded with images purporting to be a “World Famous Mint and Refinery Certificate for Agent Distributor” and an “ABC Refinery Ownership Certificate” for ownership of 20,000 gold bullion. gold.

These certificates were fakes created by Nguyen.

Based on the certificate of ownership, JAJ paid S$666,000 for 12 gold bars in January 2019. On Nguyen’s instruction, the money was deposited in a bank account belonging to another gold supplier. The deposit was reflected in Nguyen’s personal account with the supplier.

By then, Nguyen already owed over S$4.8 million in gold bullion to various clients and was being harassed by them.

She used the money deposited by JAJ to buy 11 gold bars from the gold supplier, which she distributed to Singapore Island Resources, YNK and ORO Trading.

She also attempted to cover up her embezzlement of JAJ’s payment by writing company checks for the sum, which were dishonored for lack of funds, and saying that her company could not obtain registration of the gold bars.

BLAME ON HIS STEPSON

Nguyen was arrested on May 22, 2019.

She blamed her son-in-law for the embezzlement, making such false claims that he threatened to kill Nguyen and his family in order to coerce her into handing over JAJ’s gold bars to other parties.

At sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Gerald Tan noted that Nguyen was a “persistent, persistent offender” who claimed eight victims in 17 months and took an “astonishingly large amount of money” from them.

The offenses were premeditated, as evidenced by the falsification of certificates necessary to deceive the director of JAJ, he said.

Nguyen also took several steps to evade detection, such as using payments for subsequent orders to make up for earlier revenue shortfalls and fabricating lies, Mr. Tan said.

In mitigation, defense attorney David Marc Lee said Nguyen never intended to embezzle the money but tried to carry out all possible orders until his arrest, and that it was “a case of terrible mismanagement” on his part.

The prosecution responded by saying the victims suffered “enormous losses” and questioned the extent to which Nguyen tried to fulfill the gold bullion orders.

At sentencing, District Judge Ong Hian Sun said a deterrent sentence was needed to send a message to the defendant and other like-minded offenders.