SINGAPORE: A man was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Wednesday March 30 for helping crooks launder more than half a million dollars in criminal proceeds through email fraud.
As commercial affairs department police investigators closed in on him, Singaporean Mohd Jamail Khan Banakhani Shafi Khan sent them fake agreements to justify receiving the funds in 2016 and 2017.
Jamail, 56, was the director of Jars Technology and Jars Investments and Holdings at the time of the breaches. Of the proceeds of crime he received, Jamail used approximately S$59,000 for his benefit.
The court heard that Jars Technology received two payments of approximately S$141,000 and S$325,000 into its Standard Chartered Bank account on May 23 and June 10, 2016 respectively.
The transfers were made by the Vietnamese company Trading Scientific Technological Materials (Tramat). These were payments to another company, Shimadzu (Asia-Pacific), for laboratory equipment.
Tramat had previously received spoofed emails sent using an email address with the domain name “@sg-shimadzu.com”, which resembled the email address of a genuine employee of Shimadzu.
The spoofed emails contained instructions for Tramat to make payments to Jar Technology’s Standard Chartered Bank account instead of Shimadzu’s bank account.
Jamail was the “controlling mind” of Jars Technology, the only authorized signatory of the bank account to which the payments were sent, and had consented to his company receiving the money, the prosecution said.
He claimed to have received the payments as part of a US$3.5 million investment by a man named Chinazaepere Raphael Okoli to buy a freehold property in Singapore.
This is despite the fact that Jamail has no experience or qualifications in real estate investments and that he himself “found it strange that someone he had never met would entrust him with such a huge investment”, said the prosecution.
Of the payments received from Tramat, Jamail transferred S$17,000 to his own loan account, S$4,000 to his personal bank account and withdrew S$10,000 for personal expenses. He also issued two checks totaling more than S$28,000 payable to a car manufacturer.
When Tramat’s manager discovered that Shimadzu had not received the payments and that the spoofed emails were not from a Shimadzu employee, he filed a police report in Singapore on June 20, 2016.
After the police report, Jamail forged an investment agreement between Tramat and Jars Investments using Okoli’s electronic signature.
He sent this document to a commercial affairs investigator to make him believe that there was a genuine investment arrangement between the two companies, which was an obstruction in the course of justice, the prosecution said.
In May 2017, Jamail again received an additional S$67,000 in proceeds of crime from the email fraud.
This happened after the Singapore branch of Bank Mandiri received spoofed emails claiming to be from an employee of Madhucon Granites, the parent company of Nama Holdings.
The spoofed emails tricked Bank Mandiri into approving transfers from Nama Holdings’ corporate bank account to Jamail’s personal bank account with Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).
Police reports were made by representatives of Bank Mandiri and Madhucon Granites later that month.
During investigations, Jamail claimed to have received the money as part of a US$2 million investment by a man known as “Mr. Namakrishnan” and again provided investigators with a bogus agreement. investment to justify the transfers.
Investigations showed that Jamail handed over around S$13,600 of the funds to a man named Chibueze Clement Egbukichi in the United Arab Emirates despite the alleged deal not giving him authority to do so.
Deputy Attorney General Lee Wei Liang previously requested 30 months in prison, citing the large sums of money involved and the long period of the offence.
He noted that Jamail continued to deal with suspicious characters even though he had been warned about them.
Investigations revealed that in early 2015 Jamail was questioned for money laundering offenses in relation to an individual named “John Mark”. He agreed to receive the payments from Tramat although he had reason to believe the same person was involved.
The prosecutor also pointed out that Jamail produced two forged agreements to frustrate investigations into him, giving the court reason to infer that he knew he was wrong.
Defense lawyer Sofia Bakhash had requested a maximum of 20 months in prison. She said Jamail was a driver with little experience in wealth management and his crimes lacked “sophistication”.
She also argued that while the total amount of money involved was significant, only around S$59,000 had been used by Jamail for her benefit, mostly to pay off debts.
It showed a “certain altruistic intent” as Jamail was using the money to straighten out his financial situation, she said.
District Judge Christopher Goh disagreed with the defense that the harm caused by Jamail’s actions was small.
He granted a reprieve for the prison term to start after Hari Raya Puasa.