Deliveryman jailed for stealing friend's life savings to gamble

Over seven years, Lee Kim Sai withdrew more than $20,000 from the bank account of his colleague. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 
Over seven years, Lee Kim Sai withdrew more than $20,000 from the bank account of his colleague. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE 

SINGAPORE - A 61-year-old deliveryman was sentenced to 14 months in jail on Friday for stealing the life savings of his friend of more than 18 years.

Over seven years, Lee Kim Sai withdrew more than $20,000 from the bank account of his colleague, fellow deliveryman Chua Ching Huat, 64.

Mr Chua had entrusted Lee with his ATM card and PIN for safekeeping in 2008, as he did not know how to use the card and was afraid he might forget the number.

However, Lee took money out of the account regularly, and used it for gambling.

Mr Chua only realised his losses when he went to the bank on Aug 7 last year to inquire about a GST voucher of $500 that was supposed to have been deposited into his account.

He discovered that there was only about $7 left, even though he had made no withdrawals since 2008. He made a police report that same day.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Chua said: "I felt disappointed as I trusted him as a friend."

District Judge Jasvender Kaur called the accused's crime a "gross breach of trust" and added that what he had done was "very wicked".

"This was the hard-earned savings of your friend and basically was his nest egg, and was almost his entire life-savings," she said.

In mitigation, Lee said he had apologised to Mr Chua and was trying to pay him back by doing odd jobs. He has made restitution of $1,900 so far.

For each charge of criminal breach of trust, Lee could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, or both.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg