Jail for carpenter who pocketed $10,000 for role in cheating cousin’s employer

SINGAPORE – A Malaysian national who felt obliged to take up his cousin’s offer to cheat a company helped to forge 17 invoices worth more than $145,000.

Goh Chen Ning, 34, pocketed around $10,000 for these acts.

On May 3, he pleaded guilty to one count of cheating and was sentenced to five months’ jail.

A similar charge was taken into consideration.

Goh had come to Singapore more than 10 years ago to work as a carpenter.

Defense lawyer Asoka Markandu, said Goh’s cousin – Teoh Chwin Tzen, referred to as Jason in court – had asked Goh to help out in a carpentry shop on the weekends.

Mr Asoka said Goh agreed to the arrangement as he wanted to earn more money. The lawyer did not clarify if the shop is Kai Millwork, where Jason worked.

But the cousins ​​later conspired to cheat Kai Millwork, together with Jason’s colleague, Chiang Lai Fah.

Mr Asoka said Goh agreed to the scheme as he felt indebted to Jason for the work opportunity he provided.

The lawyer said that Goh was only a “minion” acting on instructions. He added that this was a one-off incident and that Goh was a valuable member of society as a skilled carpenter, pointing out that Goh’s employer, who was in court, had stepped up to be his bailor.

Mr Asoka said: “To find that he has an employer who is with him today is something that speaks of his character.”

But District Judge Prem Raj said that Goh played an important part of the scheme, as there would have been no forged invoices without him.

“I do not think these were momentarily lapses in judgment… especially if he did it on 17 occasions,” the judge said.

The court heard Jason had discovered a plan to cheat his company sometime in 2021. He would falsify, or instruct someone to falsify invoices – claiming works were done by freelancers.

Jason was then a supervisor at the firm. He was in charge of engaging freelancers and approving invoices for any work done by them.

Jason would then send the invoices to Chiang, an accounting manager at the firm, who would sign off and approve the payments.

The freelancers, who was Goh in this case, would be paid by Kai Millwork and he would then transfer the money to Jason or Chiang.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh said Jason had promised to give Goh some money for his role.

Goh pocketed around $10,000 after helping to falsify 10 invoices worth a total of $111,220 between February 2022 and January 2023.

The DPP said Goh’s role came to light only when Jason was investigated for offenses related to the company. Court documents do not detail the offenses.

Goh has since made full restitution to the company.

The prosecution said Goh had falsified another seven invoices between February 2021 and January 2022, worth a total of $34,500.

On March 15, Chiang, 37, was sentenced to 10 months’ jail for her part in the scheme.

The Straits Times understands that Jason’s case is pending.

Those found guilty of non-aggravated cheating can be jailed for up to three years and fined.