Bank of China

Mainlander held over US$1b fraud attempt

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am

Police arrest 'businessman' at bank meeting

A mainland man was arrested yesterday for trying to cheat ABN Amro Bank in Hong Kong using bogus cashier's orders with a face value of US$1 billion.

The arrest was made when the man, 52, allegedly posing as a mainland businessman, attended a meeting with bank staff at the bank's offices in Cheung Kong Center in Central at 11.30am.

The meeting was set up by officers of the Commercial Crime Bureau after the bank alerted police on Tuesday over forged documents.

Chief Inspector Martin Wong Kai-chung said the man claimed to be involved in a mainland real-estate development.

'The man presented the cashier's orders in an attempt to persuade the bank that they are genuine and then use them as capital for an investment package,' he said.

He did not rule out the possibility that money could have been withdrawn if the bank did not discover the forgeries.

During yesterday's meeting, officers seized the 20 counterfeit Bank of China (Hong Kong) cashier's orders - each with a face value of US$50 million. The man, a Chinese passport holder, was arrested for using forged documents. Investigators believe he is the leader of a syndicate.

Police later arrested a 60-year-old local man in Wan Chai in connection with the case.

Police said the quality of the fakes was considered 'normal'. A police spokesman said that bank staff were capable of distinguishing such forged documents.

'We are still investigating the source of the forged documents and whether the suspect has any business in Hong Kong,' Chief Inspector Wong said. Describing the fraud attempt as 'rare', he said the syndicate was 'well-organised' because 'the man approached the bank with this plot, forged documents and supporting documents'.

Police said the mainlander had set up a bank account with ABN Amro a few months ago.

'We successfully foiled the fraud attempt because of the close co-operation and good notification system between the banking industry and police,' Mr Wong said.

He warned that uttering forged documents was a serious offence, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail. Both men were detained for questioning last night. No charges had been laid.

Police said investigations were continuing.

In another case, on Monday, two Singaporeans and a mainlander were jailed for using false cheques and deposit certificates to try to withdraw more than US$108 billion from a bank.

The District Court heard that the three claimed the documents were issued in 1948 by Overseas Trust Bank - which was only established in 1955.