Batam church pastor jailed over plot to use fake $10,000 note

The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
The Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A 49-year-old pastor at a church in Batam was jailed at the Singapore State Courts on Friday (19 February) for four years and two months for conspiring with another man to use a counterfeit $10,000 note.

Jusuf Nababan, an Indonesian national, pleaded guilty to his single charge for conspiring with Singaporean Saw Eng Kiat, who deposited the note at a DBS Bank branch.

The court heard that Jusuf, a father of four, was in a relationship with an Indonesian woman named Yolanda who was around his age.

In October 2019, he asked her to help him find a Singaporean to change a $10,000 note to smaller denominations.

"The accused told Yolanda that he had checked with a moneychanger in Batam who told him that the note is real. The accused also told Yolanda that he would give the Singaporean a 'commission'," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kong Kuek Foo.

"At this point, the accused knew or had reason to believe that the said note is a counterfeit. He decided to get someone to help him change the note so that he would not be responsible if the note were found to be a counterfeit," the prosecutor added.

Rebuffed by antique shops

Yolanda subsequently contacted Saw, who agreed to help. On 11 October, Jusuf met with Yolanda and Saw in Singapore, and Jusuf passed Saw the note.

"Saw Eng Kiat felt suspicious about the counterfeit note, as it was handed over to him so casually despite its supposed high value. Nevertheless, as Saw Eng Kiat was facing financial problems, he decided to help the accused in return for the 'commission' that was promised to him," said DPP Kong.

Saw took a photo of the fake note on his handphone and went to two antique shops at Chinatown Point and People’s Park Centre to enquire about it. However, staff at both shops told Saw that the note had no value.

Went to DBS Bank branch

Undeterred, Saw suggested to the Indonesian couple that they try changing the note at a bank. The trio then took a taxi to HarbourFront Centre. Saw went into a DBS Bank branch while Yolanda and Jusuf waited outside.

Saw handed the counterfeit note to a bank teller and she deposited it into his bank account. Jusuf got $7,500, Yolanda got $1,000 and Saw pocketed $1,500 of the ill-gotten cash.

Saw used the $1,500 he got to pay his bills. Meanwhile, Jusuf gambled all the money at a casino.

One week later, on 17 October, a compliance officer with DBS Bank made a police report in relation to the fake note.

Jusuf was arrested on 7 November 2019 at the Singapore Cruise Centre after he arrived from Batam.

In mitigation, Jusuf's lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed said his client is "a devout Christian" who is married to a housewife, and the couple have four children between the ages of nine and 19.

Jusuf was in the business of dealing in secondhand clothes and would arrange for dealers in Singapore to send items to Jakarta. The $10,000 note was found in one shipment of used clothes, the lawyer said.

For his crime, Jusuf could have been jailed up to 20 years and also fined.

Saw was handed the same sentence as Jusuf last year.

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