Ex-company director cheated another firm of more than $1.3m, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Ex-company director cheated another firm of more than $1.3m

A former director of a ship building company was sentenced to five years’ jail on Monday after he cheated a financing firm of over $1.3 million by using 10 fake invoices.

Vignish Vijelal, 36, who was working for Lal Marine & Construction (LMC) when he committed the offences, cheated Capital March Platform (CMP) multiple times in 2016 through factoring agreements.

CMP specialises in factoring and LMC was its client.

Each invoice was accompanied by a work order purportedly between LMC and offshore structure builder Keppel FELS.

But there was no contract between LMC and Keppel FELS in relation to the painting and blasting works stated on the 10 work orders.

Instead, for each of the 10 LMC work orders, there was a corresponding genuine work order between another firm – Lal Offshore Marine (LOM) – and Keppel FELS. LOM was the sister company of LMC.

At the time of the offences, Vignish and his father were directors at LOM.

District Judge Marvin Bay had earlier convicted Vignish of 10 cheating charges after a trial.

Before handing down the sentence on Monday, the judge noted that Vignish said in his mitigation plea that he had made repayments totalling more than $400,000, putting the nett loss by CMP to be over $950,000.

The judge said: “In sentencing for financial and commercial crimes, the quantum of loss is often considered to be a proxy to peg the harm caused by the criminal activity.”

In his submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said that factoring is a process in which a company obtains a loan by assigning a debt owed to the company itself.

For the current case, the prosecution said that the 10 invoices, which LMC had purportedly issued to Keppel FELS, were submitted to CMP for factoring.

However, the DPP said that Keppel FELS did not owe any debt to LMC, adding. “Each of the 10 LMC work orders was forged. There was no contract between LMC and Keppel FELS in relation to the painting and blasting works stated on the 10 work orders.

“The vast majority of the debt owed by Keppel FELS under the 10 LOM work orders had already been paid.”

According to the prosecution, Vignish accepted that LMC had cheated CMP.

But he claimed that he had been misled by one of his employees, identified as Alexander Francis.

The prosecutor said: “He claims that Francis told him that he had managed to convince Keppel FELS to ‘change’ the work orders from LOM to LMC, such that, LMC could collect payment from Keppel FELS, instead of LOM.”

DPP Malhotra said that Vignesh’s contention that he was misled by Francis is “wholly illogical”.

The prosecutor told the court: “Francis had no motive to cheat CMP. He had no control over LMC’s (bank) account. He stood nothing to gain from this fraud.

“Conversely, the sums delivered by CMP were spent on the accused’s company expenses, the accused and his family’s personal expenses, and large sums were withdrawn by the accused and his brother in cash. The accused thus had a clear motive to cheat CMP.”

Vignish’s intends to appeal, and his bail has been set at $110,000.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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