Ex-church staff gets jail for embezzling funds

Pang Khang Foo, now an Uber driver, was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail yesterday. He siphoned about $37,000 from Christian Gospel Mission between 2014 and last year, using a variety of methods, including submitting fictitious invoices. He has since made
Pang Khang Foo, now an Uber driver, was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail yesterday. He siphoned about $37,000 from Christian Gospel Mission between 2014 and last year, using a variety of methods, including submitting fictitious invoices. He has since made full restitution. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Former transport supervisor claimed he was facing financial woes due to gambling addiction

A long-time church employee who was facing financial difficulties because of his gambling addiction resorted to misappropriating money belonging to the church.

Pang Khang Foo, 43, who was a board member and transport supervisor at Christian Gospel Mission, embezzled about $37,000 from the church in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 between 2014 and last year.

He was given 16 weeks' jail yesterday after admitting to criminal breach of trust of $15,203.

Two other similar charges involving $14,139 and $7,689 were considered during sentencing.

Pang, now an Uber driver, is out on $15,000 bail.

He will commence his sentence on Oct 4.

He was thus entrusted with church funds to pay the transport operator for its services and any related maintenance works.

Pang's crimes came to light in August last year when the church's pastor and chairman discovered some accounting discrepancies while he was checking the church's records.

When confronted, Pang admitted to embezzling church funds.

He claimed to have financial difficulties because of his gambling addiction.

Using a variety of methods, including submitting fictitious invoices, he misappropriated $37,031 from the church. He has since made full restitution.

In mitigation, Pang's lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy said that when his client encountered difficulties paying his children's education and household expenses, he began to invest in stocks and bonds, and lost huge sums of money.

Said the lawyer: "He then decided foolishly to embark on gambling.

"He naively thought that by gambling, he would win back the money (losses) that he suffered from the investments."

Pang, the lawyer added, gradually became addicted to gambling.

He has since taken steps to overcome his addiction by completing a gambling addiction recovery group counselling course. He has also been invited to serve as a volunteer to help other gambling addicts.

Pang could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined for criminal breach of trust.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-church staff gets jail for embezzling funds'. Print Edition | Subscribe