SINGAPORE — A restaurant assistant manager fraudulently bought food items, including pork and chicken, worth more than $150,000 with his employer’s money, then resold them and pocketed the money.
Tan Han Boon, 50, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to breach of trust.
He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of driving without a license and was sentenced to an additional two weeks in jail.
He will be prohibited from holding all categories of driver’s license for two years from his date of release.
The court heard he had worked at Kanada-Ya, a Japanese ramen restaurant, since November 2019 and his monthly salary was $2,800.
He was responsible for hiring and supervising the company’s part-time staff and was given $2,000 a month to buy food ingredients from suppliers.
Deputy Attorney General Tay Jia En said Tan had hired no less than three part-time employees who were paid $8 an hour.
“At some point in November 2019, when the defendant tried to claim a refund from the company, (she) questioned whether the part-time staff hired by the defendant complied with the requirements of the Ministry of Health. Workforce. As a result, the company did not reimburse the defendant immediately,” DPP Tay said.
Since he had already hired them, he had to pay their salaries out of his own pocket while waiting for reimbursement.
That month, Tan took out a loan from an unlicensed pawnbroker to pay the salaries of the part-time staff he had hired.
In order to settle repayments to the unlicensed lender, the accused began diverting food products from the company’s store in July 2020 to resell to other vendors.
Eventually, Tan devised a scheme to fraudulently purchase food products on behalf of the company, resell the products to other vendors, and pocket the proceeds.
He sold these products at a price lower than the market price and resold the products to about ten buyers.
Between July 18, 2020 and October 7, 2020, Tan made 28 fraudulent purchases using the company’s account.
The defendant also admitted to pocketing $1,200 in petty cash to be paid to a supplier of raw eggs. In total, Tan embezzled over $154,000 from the company. No restitution has been made to date.
The company discovered his violations in early October 2020 and his employment was terminated.
Seeking 30 months in jail for Tan’s criminal breach of trust offence, DPP Tay said this was the fifth time Tan has appeared in court for committing a criminal breach of trust.
In 2013, he embezzled more than $16,000 from a food court he worked at to pay off his online betting debts.
But DPP Tay said the defendant in this case was not motivated by greed or personal gain.
He noted that Tan’s motivation for committing the offenses was the increased interest payments from lenders which were accumulating due to the delay he faced in obtaining repayment.
Defense lawyer Asoka Markandu reiterated that his client was not motivated by personal greed, but was put in a difficult position at his job and expected to be reimbursed when the time came but was not.
During sentencing, District Judge Kow Keng Siong noted that there were exceptional factors in this case to cause the defendant to cause offense.
For each count of criminal breach of trust by employees, an offender can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.