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Friday, 16 July 2010

Sunshine Empire trio guilty

By Khushwant Singh

A DISTRICT court convicted former head of Sunshine Empire James Phang Wah, 49, and ex-director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat, 29, on Friday for perpetrating a fraud and for criminal breach of trust.

Phang and his wife Neo Kuon Huay, 46, were also found guilty of falsifying accounts. The trio will be sentenced on July 30.

During the two-month long trial that started last October, the prosecution presented evidence that the two men had misled participants about the customer rebate points (CRP) earned by buying the firm's lifestyle packages. The duo had claimed the CRP was derived from the firm's turnover on the e-mall platform.

While this sounds impressive, it was essentially meaningless, as the e-commerce platform generated no additional income for Sunshine, District Judge Jasvender Kaur noted.

The CRP was paid out from the sale of new packages and since the rebate points could come up to 160 per cent of the cost of a package, the scheme was doomed to fail, the judge said on Friday.

The court also ruled that both men had committed eight CBT offences by paying Neo a monthly commission of one per cent of total sales under the guise that she was the firm's group sales director.

Phang and his wife were also convicted on six charges of falsifying accounts for the payment of these commissions.

Phang and Hoo face a maximum of $15,000 fine and seven years' jail for fraudulent trading. For the CBT offences, they face a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine. The maximum penalty for falsifying accounts is seven years' jail with a fine.

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