DBS assistant service manager jailed 13 months for taking almost $50,000 from bank vault

Kasturi Pakiyam Ramanathan was jailed for 13 months after she pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal breach of trust by a servant.
Kasturi Pakiyam Ramanathan was jailed for 13 months after she pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal breach of trust by a servant.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An assistant service manager entrusted with cash at the DBS bank vault at the POSB Ngee Ann City branch took close to $50,000 in cash to pay off loan sharks and to feed her gambling habit, a court heard.

On Tuesday (May 10), Kasturi Pakiyam Ramanathan, 39, was jailed for 13 months after she pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal breach of trust by a servant.

A district court heard Kasturi deposited and withdrew cash from the bank vault as part of her job. She was also tasked with ensuring that the cash in the vault tallied with the bank's records.

On various occasions between August and October 2014, she took $49,500 from the vault without permission.

Each time she took some cash, she would pretend to be reserving new notes for a customer and withdraw a block of notes totalling $50,000, which was in $50 denominations.

She would place the block of notes in her work drawer and, when no one was looking, pull out several notes from the block and leave them in the drawer.

She would then reseal the block and deposit it back into the vault after the bank closed, and collect the money in her drawer at the end of the work day.

To ensure that she was not caught, she even came back to work on her days off so that her colleagues would not handle the tampered blocks of money that were in the bank vault.

Kasturi used the money to repay loans from moneylenders, relatives and friends, and to gamble via Singapore Pools and on betting websites, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan asked for 13 to 15 months' jail, noting that her offence directly targeted a financial institution.

"The accused was entrusted with access to the vault of the bank, perhaps one of the most secure places in the bank, and she broke the trust reposed in her," he said.

In mitigation, Kasturi, who did not have a lawyer, claimed that she was stressed by loan sharks who had threatened to harm her family.

The unlicensed moneylenders asked her to work for them, but she did not take up the offer. They also asked for her bank details, but she did not give it to them.

"I hope for some leniency," she told District Judge Adam Nakhoda.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that her employer had placed a high degree of trust in her.

He also noted that the sum involved was relatively large.

The judge backdated her sentence to April 28, when she was first remanded.

For committing criminal breach of trust as a servant, Kasturi could have been jailed for 15 years and fined.