Manager claims trial for taking RM230m in illegal deposits

Hoo Choon Cheat

KUALA LUMPUR: A manager claimed trial at the Sessions Court on Wednesday for allegedly collecting RM230 million in illegal deposits.

Hoo Choon Cheat faces two charges, under Section 25(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (BAFIA), for allegedly accepting deposits without having a valid licence.

According to the charge sheet, Hoo assisted Sunshine Empire Sdn Bhd in taking the illegal deposits.

On the first charge, he was said to have committed the offence between 14 July 2006 and 17 October 2006. On the second charge, he allegedly collected deposits illegally from 18 October 2006 to 4 April 2008.

If found guilty he can be fined up to RM10 million or jailed for up to 10 years or both on each charge.

Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad fixed bail at RM2 million with two sureties. “The bailors must be Malaysian citizens,” he said.

Azman also ordered Hoo to surrender his passport to the court. He was also ordered to report at the nearest police station on the first week of every month.

He set September 19 as the next mention date.

Earlier, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) prosecuting officer Alvin Ong Heng Kiat asked the court to impose a high bail of RM1million for each of Hoo’s two charges. He described the offences as serious.

“Besides, the high bail is needed to ensure his attendance,” he said. “Hoo has permanent residence status in Singapore.”

Ong also asked the court to compound Hoo’s passport and have him report to the nearest police station once a month.

Hoo’s lawyer Nur Lisa Ahmad Zamani asked for minimum bail. “He was previously jailed seven years in Singapore for criminal breach of trust and fraudulent trading.”

She argued that Hoo gave his full cooperation during investigations.

Ong told reporters that Sunshine Empire Sdn Bhd has been fined RM2 million on two charges of illegal deposit taking.