A former bank executive has been jailed for four years for transferring almost HK$28.9 million from the Royal Bank of Scotland accounts of four clients in 2009 to compensate 10 others who suffered investment losses.
Helen Chow Hoi-ching, 39, daughter of Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Chow Chun-fai, earlier pleaded guilty to one count of fraud.
Defence lawyers said at the time that she was so sorry for causing some of her clients to lose money during the 2008 financial crisis that she first used her own money to cover up the shortfall before moving funds from the other accounts - without pocketing a single dollar in the process.
"It is a very serious fraud case involving HK$28 million, breach of trust, and no prospect of any compensation," Judge Garry Tallentire told the District Court yesterday.
Although the defendant claimed she did not reap any financial gains, the judge noted: "You made the decision as to who should lose money and who should not."
RBS had compensated the four clients in full, the court heard earlier.
It is not known if there will be any settlement to reclaim the funds from the 10 customers.
Tallentire accepted that Chow was a woman of great ability, but had fallen from grace. With the criminal conviction, she could no longer return to a banking job, he noted.
A medical report submitted to the court stated that Chow suffered from depression. The judge ordered her to continue psychiatric treatment in jail.
The senior Chow, who is a Justice of the Peace and recipient of the Bronze Bauhinia Star, attended the hearing with about 10 relatives and friends. He declined to comment as he left the court. Prosecutors said earlier that Helen Chow, as a senior relationship manager, forged transaction forms between January and March 2009 to mislead RBS into transferring HK$28.87 million from two personal accounts and one joint account to 10 overseas clients. One of the four account holders complained to the bank on April 16, 2009, about an unauthorised transaction from his account.
The bank conducted an inquiry and found the documents involved in the eight transactions were not signed by the account holders and all the transactions were handled by Chow.
The bank also realised that she had changed the mailing address of one of the account holders, preventing him from receiving genuine bank statements. She sent a fake statement to the client to hide the fact that his money was gone.