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Man resold S$153,000 of his company's meat products after failing to be reimbursed, gets jail

On his employer's instructions, the man hired three part-time workers and paid them first, but was not immediately reimbursed for their salaries.

Man resold S$153,000 of his company's meat products after failing to be reimbursed, gets jail

File photo of frozen meat products. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: After being released from prison for misappropriating money from his company, a man found a new job at a food and beverage firm.

He asked for part-time workers to help him cope with his workload, but was not reimbursed for their salaries immediately, so he borrowed money from a loan shark to pay them.

Tan Han Boon, 50, began pocketing more than S$153,000 in food products from the company to sell to other suppliers in order to get the cash to pay back the unlicensed moneylender.

On Thursday (Oct 20), Tan was sentenced to jail for 18 months and two weeks and banned from driving for two years. 

He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust by a servant and one charge of driving without a licence. Two other charges were taken into consideration.

The court heard that Tan was jailed four times before for criminal breach of trust by misappropriation. His latest conviction was in 2019, when he pocketed cash in his capacity as a senior supervisor and purchaser at a restaurant.

After being released from prison, Tan found a job as an assistant manager with F&B firm Kanada-Ya SG, earning S$2,800 a month.

He was in charge of hiring and supervising part-time staff and was also entrusted with petty cash to purchase ingredients from suppliers.

In November 2019, Tan approached his boss to say he needed extra part-time staff to help with cooking. His boss asked him to employ these workers, and Tan hired three people.

They were paid at a rate of about S$8 an hour and usually worked overnight in the kitchen. When Tan tried to ask the company for reimbursement, he was not given it immediately as the company was concerned about whether the part-time staff were hired in compliance with the Ministry of Manpower's requirements.

Because Tan had already hired the staff, he had to pay their salaries out of his own pocket while waiting to be reimbursed. He said the S$2,000 that he received monthly in petty cash for ingredients was insufficient to cover his costs.

In November 2019, Tan took an illegal loan to pay for the new workers' salaries. By end-December 2019, the company still had not reimbursed Tan for his out-of-pocket expenses for the part-time staff.

The company hired a third-party vendor on Dec 31, 2019 to settle the outstanding accounts with Tan. The vendor made reimbursements to Tan on an almost-weekly basis from January 2020 to March 2020, but they were not enough to cover the interest payments that had accrued on Tan's illegal loan.

In order to repay the loan shark, Tan began misappropriating food products from the company to sell to other suppliers in July 2020.

He did so by ordering food products in the company's name and reselling them to other buyers, often at below-market rates.

Between July 2020 and October 2020, he made purchases amounting to S$153,234 in the company's name for food items like pork loin and frozen chicken parts.

He also pocketed S$1,200 in petty cash meant as payment to an egg supplier. The company discovered his offences in October 2020, lodged a police report and fired him.

Tan then found another job as a courier, but he did not have a driver's licence. He was given strict instructions not to drive the delivery vehicle and Tan hired a driver for his deliveries.

However, Tan drove the company van on Jul 7, 2021 from his home to a warehouse. He got into a collision with a taxi when the taxi switched lanes.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En asked for jail of at least 30 months and two weeks, with a two-year driving ban. He said this was Tan's fifth time appearing before the court for criminal breach of trust.

Tan's lawyer Asoka Markandu, who was previously a prosecutor, said 30 months was a "high" sentence to ask for. He asked for 24 months instead, if not less.

He said his client had been trying to turn his life around when the incident occurred and pointed to how the company had acted.

When Tan joined the company, he was the only one working in the factory at first, making the broth. When he told his employer that he needed more workers, the employer told him to find them himself and claim reimbursement, said Mr Asoka.

Tan hired three part-time workers and had to pay S$6,000 to S$8,000 per worker depending on the hours they worked. He expected to be reimbursed, said Mr Asoka. When that did not happen, he turned to an unlicensed moneylender.

The judge imposed a sentence that was lower than what the prosecutor and defence asked for.

Source: CNA/ll(zl)

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