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6 years 10 months’ jail for man who scammed over S$1m by faking links to Temasek’s Ho Ching

6 years 10 months’ jail for man who scammed over S$1m by faking links to Temasek’s Ho Ching

Source: TODAY
Article Date: 11 Feb 2021
Author: Daryl Choo

The various ruses involved convincing his victims to hand him money for non-existent investment schemes, promising them extraordinarily high returns such as 100 per cent within a month.

  • Sathish Nair Dhanabalan convinced his victims to give him money for non-existent investment schemes
  • He also forged the signature of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat
  • He admitted to one count of theft from his father, who bailed him out on Feb 10

A man who pretended to have links to state investor Temasek Holdings’ chief executive Ho Ching to cheat his victims of more than S$1 million was sentenced to six years and 10 months' jail on Wednesday (Feb 10).

Sathish Nair Dhanabalan, 36, pleaded guilty to 20 charges related to cheating, forgery and theft, with another 41 taken into consideration during sentencing.

The Singaporean was convicted of cheating nine victims, including his friends, of about S$1.23 million in total between 2014 and mid-2017.

The various ruses involved convincing his victims to hand him money for non-existent investment schemes, promising them extraordinarily high returns such as 100 per cent within a month.

In some cases, Sathish made initial payments as a way to assure his victims that the schemes were genuine and to induce them to “invest” more money in the schemes.

But for the most part, whenever the returns on the purported investments were due, Satish would concoct stories and forge letters from banks, government bodies, law firms and audit firms to explain why the payment had been delayed.

Some of the victims received forged signatures from Mr Ravi Menon, the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Mr Heng Swee Keat in his capacity as the Minister for Finance.

In one incident, Sathish even arranged for someone impersonating Madam Ho to call the victim to convince him that the supposed investment was legitimate.

Sathish has since returned about S$474,000 of the ill-gotten gains to the victims.In mitigation, his lawyer Sujesh Anandan said: “I’d like to highlight my client’s sincere remorse and significant restitution that has been made, of nearly 40 per cent (of the total sum cheated).”

District Judge John Ng, however, replied that it would not be right to view the full sum of money returned to victims as proper restitution.

A portion had been the sums handed to victims as purported investment returns, which ended up becoming a bait for even more investments into the concocted scheme, the judge added.

In sentencing Sathish, District Judge Ng said that the jail term reflected the severity of his offences, which were committed over a long period against many victims.

“If not for what the High Court has informed us with regard to what we call the aggregation principle, which means that some sentences when they run consecutively could end up being too long… your sentence would have been much longer.”

THE TEMASEK SCAM

In one incident, in November 2014, Sathish approached his neighbour, now aged 56, pretending to be an employee of Temasek Holdings.

Sathish told the victim that Temasek had allocated him some “lots” for “Temasek Investment”, a currency exchange investment programme that Sathish concocted. He claimed that money invested into this programme would double in just one month.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lu Yiwei said that the victim trusted Sathish and even received phone text messages and calls from someone who claimed to be Mdm Ho.

The victim first handed over a sum of S$42,500 to Sathish, who provided a handwritten note stating that the victim would receive a total return of S$85,000.

However, when the returns of the supposed investment were due, Sathish persuaded his victim not to withdraw the sum, but to continue investing the principal sum.

This modus operandi carried on until mid-2016 and the victim gave Sathish S$207,100.

Sathish would reassure the victim by giving him items such as a Samsung mobile phone and a Rolex watch, which he claimed were tokens of appreciation from Temasek.

He also produced various letters related to the victim’s supposed investment with Temasek — which included one with a forged signature from Mdm Ho — the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Sathish’s ploys started to unravel because he went too far in his efforts to portray the legitimacy of the Temasek Investment when the person impersonating Mdm Ho promised to pay for the victim’s daughter’s school fees but did not deliver on the payment, DPP Lu said.

The victim eventually called the police on Nov 3, 2017, and Sathish was arrested.

STOLE FROM HIS FATHER

Sathish’s single theft charge related to four cheques belonging to his now 71-year-old father.

In August 2017, Sathish stole the cheques and then forged his father’s signature to issue cheques bearing S$150,000 each to three victims of his investment scam.

He did so because the victims were demanding to get their investment funds. All four cheques bounced due to insufficient money in his father’s bank account.

Sathish’s father, who helped repay some of the money he cheated, posted bail of S$50,000 on Wednesday.

Sathish will serve his sentence from Thursday.

Copyright 2021 MediaCorp Pte Ltd | All Rights Reserved

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