Ex-AIA agent jailed 8 years for cheating businessman
FORMER AIA insurance agent Sally Low was jailed for eight years yesterday for cheating a businessman into buying a fake US$5.06 million (S$6.9 million) policy in 2002.
The former high-flying agent, who faced a total of 21 charges, appeared weak in court yesterday and was supported by her aunt.
Low, 40, on May 5, pleaded guilty to three charges of cheating, one charge of fraudulent use of forged documents and one of moving crime proceeds to a bank account in Hong Kong.
The other 16 charges were taken into consideration.
It was the second time she had pleaded guilty to selling a fake AIA Thank You insurance policy after retracting the first guilty plea in June 2014.
The saga has seen many twists.
It began in late 2002 when Ong Han Ling, now 78, was sold a fake policy by Low, then an AIA agent.
He and his wife were told by Low that they would receive guaranteed annual fixed returns of 6 per cent on the US dollar component of the plan and 7.5 per cent on the Singdollar portion.
After Mr Ong paid the premium, Low used the funds without his knowledge or consent to buy four AIA policies for him, his wife and their daughter.
Midway through the tenure of the AIA Thank You policy, Low deceived them into giving the insurance proceeds from three of the unauthorised policies to her by use of fabricated computer errors.
She used the funds to buy condos at Cairnhill and Sentosa Cove and sent some money overseas.
Her scheme came to light in 2008 after Mr Ong learnt from AIA that the Thank You policy was bogus.
He made a police report in January 2010 and sued her for damages totalling US$2.25 million and $2.99 million.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi, who had sought for a sentence of nine years in jail, told the court that there was pre-meditation and planning by Low and that substantial sums of money were in play.
Low's seventh lawyer, Sunil Sudheesan, had sought a six-year jail term.
District Judge Shawn Ho said the trust in a financial adviser-client relationship was "ruptured" in this case.
"The accused exploited her expertise to take advantage of her clients' trust, in order to reap a fortune. It was an amalgam of ambition and avarice, with probity absent."
Judge Ho noted that Low had changed lawyers several times and had wasted judicial time.
He also took into account that she had made voluntary restitution to the Ongs amounting to about $4.33 million.
When contacted, Mr Ong said: "My family and I are thankful that this criminal trial is now completed. Eight years is a very long time and, at our age, it is a large part of our lives."
Low, who was made bankrupt by her previous set of lawyers, had previously claimed she was a victim of a ploy with Mr Ong to cheat AIA. She had admitted herself to the Institute of Mental Health but was certified fit to plead and stand trial.
The Ongs are also suing AIA and Motion Insurance Agency for negligence and lack of care.