Hong Kong bank manager steals $13 mn from customers

HONG KONG - A bank manager in Hong Kong was Friday sent to jail for stealing almost $13 million from the accounts of wealthy customers.

A number of prominent Hong Kong socialites were among the victims of Cheuk Sau-yee, 31, a relationship manager in the private banking department of Hang Seng Bank.

Cheuk said she began taking the money to cover up for a $900,000 loss she made through a blunder on one client’s account, fearing the mistake would lead to her losing her $14,000-a-month job.

She made more than 150 unauthorised bank transfers to steal the money between February 2007 and June 2008, using some of the money to buy a luxury flat and repay credit card debts.

Cheuk admitted 17 counts of theft and was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail at a hearing in Hong Kong’s District Court Thursday.

Sentencing her, judge Joseph Yau said her behaviour had tarnished Hong Kong’s reputation as an international finance centre. All her clients have recovered their losses from the bank.

Cheuk’s boyfriend is accused of handling some of the cash. He has pleaded not guilty to money laundering and will face trial later this month.

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