Director jailed for swindling Wing Hang bank with fake property deeds

Director sent to prison for using fake property titles to dupe bank into approving mortgage

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 3:03am

A businessman who took part in an elaborate scam in which he used fake property deeds to obtain a mortgage from a bank was jailed for 32 months yesterday.

Lam Hoi-chiu, 66, pleaded guilty in the District Court to one count of money laundering, linked to an application for an HK$8 million mortgage on a luxury flat at Ho Man Tin Hill.

Lam admitted drawing down a total of HK$1.5 million in credit from Wing Hang Bank in January 2007. He was arrested in May after returning to the city from the mainland where, the court heard, he had spent three years in prison.

Passing sentence, Judge Kevin Browne said: "The defendant admitted not only being responsible for money laundering, but also being part of the elaborate scam. In the scam, someone impersonated the owner of the property and also mortgaged it to the bank with property deeds. These are the aggravating features of the case."

Senior public prosecutor Jones Tsui Wo-chung told the court that Lam, a director of a trading company called Eternal Jet International Development, told a manger at the bank in December 2006 that he and his business partner planned to mortgage the flat, which he said belonged to his partner's mother.

A month later, they applied for an HK$8 million credit facility secured against the flat at No1 Ho Man Tin Hill Road, which was then valued at HK$16 million.

The bank's solicitor examined the title deeds of the property and found them to be in order.

A woman impersonated the flat owner and produced an identity card in the name of the genuine owner of the home. The impostor later signed the bank documents and, on the same day, Lam signed documents to complete the loan arrangements.

Lam issued a total of four cheques worth HK$1.5 million from the credit facilities granted by the bank in the week before the scam came to light. On January 20, eight days after the credit agreement was signed, the genuine owner of the flat raised the alarm with the bank after she received mortgage documents.

However, the bank did not receive any repayment for the HK$1.5 million loan.

Lam told police he was "a stooge" instructed by his friend to set up Eternal Jet and act as its director. He was not involved in the firm's operations.

He also alleged he was instructed by his friend to apply for the mortgage and open bank accounts to draw money from the credit facilities. In mitigation, Lam claimed he played a minor role in the scam and received only HK$80,000 for his part in it.

His lawyer said his client was in poor health, suffering from diabetes and impaired hearing. He said Lam had admitted the offence and co-operated with the police.