Keppel Club scam: DPP seeks 13 years term for 71-year-old woman who conned people

Singapore woman arrested for money laundering
Singapore woman arrested for money laundering (Representational picture) Pixabay

The 71-year-old woman behind the Keppel Club membership scam has agreed to pay the club S$3.65 million in restitution on Friday, March 16 but the prosecution has urged for a jail term of 12 to 13 years.

The accused, Setho Oi Lin was working as a personal assistant to the club's general manager. Investigators found that the woman has received at least S$10.5 million after cheating on her employer for over 10 years.

Reports stated that she tricked 1,341 people and made them pay about S$37.5 million for fake memberships, between June 1, 2004, and Aug 1, 2014.

During the court hearing on Monday, the prosecution sought 12 to 13 years of imprisonment for Setho, who has been working for the club for nearly 48 years since 1966.

While considering the immensity and the huge planning of the crime, Hon Yi, the Deputy Public Prosecutor said that a jail sentence of at least 15 years will be justified.

The DPP also mentioned that the accused did a proper planning to run the cheating scam for 10 years and misused the power of her position in the club. He claimed that Setho has received much more than S$10.5 million.

Opposing the plea, Philip Fong and Lynn Wong, the lawyers of the accused told the court about Setho's restitution settlement, including her ill health and advanced age, seeking a term of seven years imprisonment for their client.

The defence lawyers presented medical reports of Setho that showed the culprit has several spinal cord problems, including hypertension and diabetes. Setho's medical reports also showed that she has to sit for a shower and advised to walk with an assistive device. It also indicated that Setho has zero percent chance to survive any 10-year term in prison.

However, Setho pleaded guilty to 60 counts of cheating on December 4, 2017.

She conned people by saying that there were club memberships available for transfer and the buyers used to make payments to third parties, including Setho's friends, family and other accomplices, as they were asked to do that instead of paying directly to the club.

Media reports stated that there was a supervisor at the membership department, who helped Setho by registering the buyers' names into the club database and providing them with membership cards.

Investigators found two 67-year-old accomplices of Setho, a former membership department supervisor Nah Hak Chuah, and the other accused was a club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin. On November 30, 2017, both the accused admitted their role in the scam.

Nah accepted 30 of 1,280 counts of making false membership entries in the database and he was sent to jail for three years on January 10, 2018. The other accused, Cheo pleaded guilty to 20 of 303 charges of misappropriating money and was sentenced to four-and-a-half year jail term on the same day with Nah.

This scam came under the spotlight when the general manager of the club lodged a police complaint on August 13, 2014. He informed the police that the accused used her position to trick the new members of Keppel Club.

Under Section 415 of Singapore's Penal Code, the available punishment for cheating depends on the specific nature of the crime but the default punishment is up to three years' imprisonment, fine, or both.

For money laundering, the maximum punishment is up to 10 years' imprisonment with or without a fine of up to S$500,000.

The next court hearing on the case will be held after March 26.

Related topics : Singapore crime