Nine local men were arrested on Tuesday for conspiring to provide forged documents to defraud a local bank by applying for bogus car loans, two of which totalling HK$900,000 (MOP 926,862) were paid to the applicants, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokeswoman Lei Hon Nei said at a special press conference on Wednesday.
The nine suspects comprise a 38-year-old real-estate agent surnamed Ng who is the alleged kingpin of the gang; a 32-year-old man surnamed Cheng who owns a car dealership; a 31-year-old real-estate agent surnamed Tong; a 27-year-old man also surnamed Cheng who is the younger brother of Cheng who worked as the deputy branch manager of the defrauded bank; as well as five loans applicants: a 37-year-old casino PR staff surnamed Leong; a 33-year-old jobless man surnamed Lam; a 32-year-old taxi driver surnamed Ao Ieong; a 31-year-old public servant surnamed Chan and a 30-year-old driver surnamed Chan.
Ao Ieong and the civil servant surnamed Chan were each granted a loan by the bank while the other three applications had been declined, said Lei.
According to Lei, a local bank reported to the police on 19 August that their staff discovered that application documents submitted in July for two car loans such as income proof and bank account statements were suspicious, and the applicants were unable to provide the original copies of their bank account statements for verification.
Upon investigation, PJ officers discovered that five loan applications totalling HK$2.25 million between June and August came from the same car dealership in Zape, and two of the applications had been approved in June for HK$450,000 each by the bank, totalling HK$900,000.
According to Lei, PJ officers detained the five loan applicants and the Cheng brothers at their various homes on Tuesday morning and took them to a police station for questioning.
Officers also searched Chengs’ car dealership office and seized a number of false car loan application documents. He admitted that his real-estate agency friends Ng and Tong were middlemen who assisted him and his brother in arranging loans from the bank through the false sale of cars.
Applicants just needed to provide their personal and bank documents to them for processing, Cheng told the police. The five applicants told the police that each loan application amounted to HK$450,000, of which 15 to 20 per cent would be deducted as “handling fees” for the two intermediaries and the car dealership.
PJ officers searched Ng’s office later that day and seized more than MOP 100,000 equivalent in cash and three computers which contained files of more than 20 false documents of income proof and bank statements dated from 2016 until now.
Lei said PJ officers suspect that Ng was the kingpin of the gang and that he and Tong were in charge of finding loan applicants who were in urgent need of money and assisted them in producing false documents of income proof and bank statements. They then passed the documents to the Cheng brothers who assisted them in providing false documents for the sale of cars and processed the loan applications respectively. Lei said the two loans applied for by Chan, the public servant, and Ao Ieong, the taxi driver, which were approved, did not require the original bank statements as the younger Cheng was a deputy branch manager of the bank and therefore was able to speed up the approval process.
Lei said that after the approval of the loans and the registration of ownership of the cars, the car dealer, Cheng, arranged to sell the cars at 10 per cent below the market price.
Lei said that since the gang had been operating since 2016, PJ officers are continuing their investigation into whether more loan applications are involved in the case. They also believe that more suspects are on the run, Lei said.
The nine suspects were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Wednesday, facing charges of fraud and document forgery, according to Lei.
Meanwhile, the Chinese-language TV news channel of public broadcaster TDM reported on Wednesday evening that the Public Security Police (PSP) had been notified by the Judiciary Police that a PSP officer surnamed Chan was a suspect in the case. The Public Security Police confirmed the TDM news last night.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © The Macau Post Daily/Iong Tat Choi