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Standard Chartered Bank clerk stole HK$2m from accounts

Standard Chartered teller cheated disabled woman and businessman to fund soccer bets

Joyce Man

A former Standard Chartered Bank teller who stole over HK$2 million from depositors - after committing similar offences at another bank - was jailed for two years and eight months yesterday.

Simon Wong Sai-man, 32, pleaded guilty last month in the District Court to two counts of theft and one of using a false instrument. He stole HK$2.21 million, between May 15 and August 25 last year, from the accounts of a businessman and a woman while he worked at a Whampoa Garden branch.

The court had heard earlier that Wong was reported to police after he tried to withdraw a further HK$230,000 from the woman's account, using her bank book and seal, on September 4 last year.

Wong transferred money from the businessman's account to his Jockey Club betting account to make soccer bets. He made up for some of the withdrawals by transferring his winnings back into the man's account. But as his losses mounted, he transferred funds from the woman's account to the businessman's to mask the deficit.

Wong had noticed that the two victims did not receive monthly statements, due to the low activity level of their accounts, the court heard. The woman was bedridden after suffering a stroke 20 years ago, the court had heard, and her mother took care of her bank account.

Wong was employed in customer services at Hang Seng Bank from 2004 to 2007. After leaving that job, he took HK$860,000 from a depositor's account by forging the holder's signature, which he had noted down during his employment.

Wong was jailed for two years in 2008 on eight counts of using a false instrument for that incident.

Judge Frankie Yiu Fun-che said Wong had taken advantage of his intimate knowledge of the two depositors' circumstances, including that the woman had suffered a stroke.

"You have committed a breach of trust," the judge said.

Noting that Wong had reoffended, the judge called the case "serious".

Asked why Wong was hired given his previous record, a Standard Chartered Bank spokesperson repeated an earlier statement issued to the press, saying that the bank has always had procedures and controls in place for hiring employees.

Applicants go through a rigorous employment entry examination, she said, and they must declare before being hired whether they have any prior criminal convictions. This was an individual incident and Wong is no longer a staff member, the spokesperson said.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Bank clerk jailed for HK$2m account theft