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Koufu food court manager jailed for exploiting CDC voucher scheme to pocket S$39,000

Koufu food court manager jailed for exploiting CDC voucher scheme to pocket S$39,000

Joel Ang Jun Xian outside court on Feb 14, 2022. (Photo: TODAY/Ili Nadhirah Mansor)

SINGAPORE: Realising that his superior was not carefully tallying vouchers distributed by the Government to support heartland shops and hawkers against daily takings, a Koufu food court manager exploited the Community Development Council (CDC) voucher scheme to gain about S$39,000 for himself.

On top of this, he embezzled another S$9,821 simply by keeping a portion of the daily cash proceeds instead of banking it into his company's account.

Joel Ang Jun Xian, 35, was jailed for eight months on Monday (Feb 14) for one count of criminal breach of trust by dishonest misappropriation. 

In mitigation, he said he "did it out of craziness, but not that I'm mentally unsound". He used the money to buy gifts for online livestreamers whom he found attractive, court documents stated.

The court heard that Ang worked as a food court manager at Koufu's branch at Block 478, Tampines Street 44. As part of his job, he collected daily cash sales proceeds from the food stalls at his branch and deposited them into Koufu's bank account by the next day. 

He was also tasked with managing the cash float money, which was kept in a safe drawer.

In June 2020, the Singapore Government launched the CDC voucher scheme to defray daily expenses and support heartland shops and hawkers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Koufu began accepting CDC vouchers as payment for food and drinks at its food courts, with the food stalls recording the transactions as "cash purchases" when customers used the vouchers.

As food court manager, Ang was responsible for both collecting the daily cash sale proceeds and the CDC vouchers that had been used for payment. He had to account for not only the cash proceeds, but also the CDC vouchers, handing them over to the area manager for accounting purposes on a weekly basis.

HE NOTICED THAT HIS AREA MANAGER WAS NOT CHECKING ON THE VOUCHERS

In May 2021, Ang realised that his area manager had not been asking for the CDC vouchers that Ang collected every week. He also noticed that his superior did not seem to notice discrepancies between daily cash sale amounts and proceeds that Ang deposited into Koufu's bank account.

He saw an opportunity to misappropriate the money in two ways, said the prosecutor: By overstating the number of CDC vouchers used as payment for daily sales, and by simply keeping the money he wanted for himself.

In the first method, he would pretend some of the daily cash proceeds had been paid for by CDC vouchers, and keep that portion of cash for himself, depositing a lower amount into Koufu's bank account.

Between May 1, 2021 and Jun 30, 2021, he embezzled S$38,696 by overstating the number of CDC vouchers collected, and misappropriated another S$9,821 in cash using the second method. In total, he took S$48,517.

An area manager overseeing several of Koufu's branches filed a police report on Jul 4, 2021, saying that Ang had misappropriated money from the company.

The prosecutor asked for eight months' jail, saying that Ang's offence "is one which frustrates the use of CDC vouchers".

"As a result of the accused's dishonest misappropriation, Koufu was led to believe that CDC vouchers had been redeemed by patrons and used as payment when in fact they had paid for their purchases using cash, but the accused had merely pocketed the monies for himself," he said.

He said such acts "have the undesirable effect of food and beverage establishments not accepting the use of CDC vouchers since they may find it hard to account for such transactions", with possible loopholes in accounting for the use of such vouchers.

In mitigation, Ang said he went to the police station to surrender himself. He asked for leniency, saying this was his first offence and that he is the sole breadwinner for his family.

"I did it out of craziness. But not that I'm mentally unsound," he said. "I will not commit again. I know that this is a big mistake, I will accept the punishment I know I have to face," he said.

For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed up to seven years, fined, or both. As his charge was amalgamated, he could have been given up to double this penalty. 

Source: CNA/ll(gr)

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