Ex-banker jailed for pocketing HK$34m

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 March, 2011, 12:00am

A former Standard Chartered senior customer director was jailed for six years yesterday for misappropriating more than HK$34 million of customers' money with forged documents.

Ronald Mok Wai-man, 45, created an overdraft drawdown facility for one of his customer's accounts and then accessed the money himself and lent it at a high interest rate to another customer who was in financial difficulties. He pocketed the repayment and then used another customer's money to repay the overdraft.

Mok had earlier been convicted on 22 counts, including using false instruments, theft, deception and money laundering, following a trial in the District Court.

The court heard that between 2002 and 2003 Mok increased the overdraft facility of one of his clients, Lok Heung Yuen Cafe Shop, from HK$5.5 million to HK$20 million, without the shop's authority.

Mok then used nine forged documents to transfer funds totalling HK$14.5 million to various accounts, including one belonging to another client, Lau Chun-fai.

Lau was in financial difficulties and Mok said he could source a loan at a higher interest rate. Lau agreed to the terms and Mok transferred about HK$8 million, part of the HK$14.5 million he had withdrawn from the cafe's account, to Lau.

Lau later repaid the loan, together with the interest, in cash, and Mok pocketed the money.

The court heard that Mok took advantage of the cafe proprietor's limited ability to read English to carry out the scheme.

Meanwhile the overdraft drawn on the cafe's account, was incurring interest and by October 2003 this totalled more than HK$20 million.

In order to settle the debt, the court heard, in 2003 Mok transferred HK$20 million from an account owned by a subsidiary of Chyau Fwu Holdings, developer of Hong Kong Parkview, to the cafe's account, using forged authorisation documents.

The case came to light in 2008 when Chyau Fwu ran some checks before transferring its funds from Standard Chartered to another bank.

Mok was unable to repay the stolen money and was fired. Chyau Fwu Holdings filed a lawsuit in the High Court seeking HK$21 million, the sum it was now owed.

In mitigation, Mok's lawyer, Harold Ng, told the court that Mok made more than HK$70,000 a month before he was fired. He had a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and masters' degrees in business administration and art. He taught at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, earning HK$30,000 a month, while he was awaiting prosecution.

He suffered from depression and developed suicidal thoughts when faced with the trial.

Commenting on Mok's loss of about HK$1 million in pension entitlements after he was dismissed, Deputy Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng said Mok had brought it on himself and only had himself to blame.

In passing sentence, Chan criticised Mok for breaching the trust placed in him by his customers and by his employer. Mok had tarnished the image of the banking system, the judge said.

Mounting debt

By October 2003 the interest on the fake overdraft totalled, in Hong Kong dollars, more than: $20m