SINGAPORE: A former secretary at a law firm was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Wednesday for using counterfeit stamp certificates.
While working as a legal secretary at Atkins Law Corporation, 39-year-old Juliana Abu Bakar had handled several property sale and purchase transactions.
Acting on a tip-off, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) investigated the transactions.
It found that she had forged three stamp certificates and handed them over as genuine ones to banks offering mortgage loans for the transacted properties.
A stamp certificate is issued to certify that a certain amount of stamp duty relating to documents or agreements relating to properties has been paid.
The stamp duties for the three charges that Juliana was indicted on amounted to about S$30,000.
When processing property conveyancing transactions, Juliana would ask the property buyers to hand over the amount of stamp duty in cheque with the payee's details left blank, explaining that she would fill in the payee's name later .
When Juliana received the cheques from the buyers, she filled in her own name as the payee instead, and deposited these cheques into her personal bank account.
She then used the money to pay off her personal debts.
Sometime later, she would pay the stamp duty that she had misappropriated and the late payment penalties to IRAS.
Even though the property conveyancing process were completed, the buyers were not aware that their money had not been used to pay the stamp duty to IRAS on time as originally intended.
In a statement, the IRAS said it takes a "very serious view of any individual or business that deliberately forges stamp certificates and knowingly misrepresents counterfeit 'certificates' as genuine".
Offenders may face penalties of up to $10,000 and/or up to three years' imprisonment.
Penalties of up to four times the stamp duty payable may also be imposed for late or non-stamping of documents. - CNA/de
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