Man jailed for stealing ex-wife's handbags and forging her signatures on cheques

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

He stole $640,000 from his ex-wife by forging her signature on her cheques to spend on his girlfriend in China and pay off gambling debts.

Strapped for cash, Kelvin Ang Soon Lim, who is unemployed, even stole his ex-wife Li Xiangli’s credit card and three branded handbags to sell including a $20,000 Hermes handbag.

Ang, a 39-year-old Singaporean, was jailed 48 months after he pleaded guilty in the State Courts on Friday (16 June). He was convicted on one count of theft and two counts of forgery. Three other counts of theft were taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Ang committed the forgery offences in 2013 when the couple were already divorced. Then, the two stayed in the same flat but in separate units. Li, 34, shared a room with the couple’s son.

Li, who is a co-investor in factories and a mining business in China, kept her cheque book in a locked drawer in her room, which she also kept locked.

The court heard that some time between 9 December 2013 and 28 December 2013, when Li was in China visiting her family, Ang duplicated her room and drawer keys before going into her room to steal her OCBC bank cheques.

On 29 December 2013, a day after Li returned to Singapore, she discovered that a sum of her money had been transferred out of her OCBC bank account. She found through further checks with OCBC that Ang had presented to the bank two cheques for the sums of $380,000 and $260,000, allegedly with Li’s signature on them. As a result, a total sum of $640,000 was deposited into Ang’s POSB bank account.

Analysts from the Health Sciences Authority who compared the forged signatures with Li’s concluded that Li could not have signed the two cheques. Li was familiar with Ang’s handwriting due to the letters he had sent to her before. She was also able to identify his handwriting on the back of the two forged cheques.

The court heard that the OCBC bank account is under Li’s name and that all the money belonged to her and her family.

Ang confessed to the police that he presented the two cheques to the bank. He said he had seen his ex-wife’s signature on telecom bills, which were placed around the house. He admitted to Li that he had used the $380,000 to pay off loanshark debts, which he had racked up from gambling. He told Li that he wanted to bring the $260,000 to China to spend with his Chinese girlfriend back then.

Three years later, Ang struck when Li was again in China, taking her Hermes handbag from her flat in Commonwealth Drive and selling it for $14,900. Li noticed the bag was missing from her cabinet when she returned to Singapore on 26 May 2016 and lodged a police report three days later.

Ang had also stolen a Celine handbag, worth $3,250, and a Balenciaga handbag, worth $2,590. He admitted that he had used the money he received from the sale of the Hermes handbag – the subject of the theft charge – to invest in a business with a friend. He also stole an OCBC credit card belonging to Li in September 2016.

After he was confronted with the forgery in 2013, Ang returned $470,000 to Li and her mother. According to Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Eric Hu, Li was willing to let the matter rest, partly because the couple had a young child then.

However, Li was driven to make a police report after Ang went on to steal her handbags in 2016. Li filed a police report about the forgery some two weeks after making a police report about the theft.

The DPP added that Ang was “highly uncooperative” during police investigations. Said DPP Hu, “He has refused to answer many of the Investigation Officer’s question by replying ‘no comments’ and refused to sign his statements.”

District Judge Samuel Chua noted Ang’s lack of remorse and his past property-related offences while sentencing him.

For theft, Ang could have been jailed up to seven years and fined. For forging a document which is considered to be a valuable security to receive money, Ang could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.