Ex-finance manager jailed 46 months for stealing $470,000 from company

Singapore permanent resident Smita Salil Mhatre, 36, misappropriated about $470,000 from her employer over a period of six years.
Singapore permanent resident Smita Salil Mhatre, 36, misappropriated about $470,000 from her employer over a period of six years. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A former finance manager, who misappropriated about $470,000 from her employer over a period of six years, was jailed for 46 months on Tuesday (Jan 19).

Smita Salil Mhatre, 36, a Singapore permanent resident, had pleaded guilty to three of six charges of criminal breach of trust as a servant, involving a total of $244,991, at Research Pacific Group between 2011 and May 2013. The remaining three charges were considered in sentencing.

A district court heard that she joined the company in 2006 as an accounts and administrative executive and worked her way up to become the finance manager.

Besides managing the company's bank accounts and fund transfers, she also held onto the security dongles for the company's Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) bank accounts, which enabled her to view the accounts, authorise and approve payments from her computer.

Around 2012, the company decided to leave cheques that had been pre-signed in her care as the company's director needed to travel overseas for work.

She misappropriated various sums of money from the company's funds by transferring money from its HSBC accounts to her personal bank account with Post Office Savings Bank (POSB). She would do so using cheques and fund transfers.

The sums she misappropriated between 2011 and May 2013 were $97,802, $98,689 and $48,500.

Highlighting aggravating factors on Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Vincent Ong said she had made partial restitution of $277,254, leaving a significant part of the misapropriated sum unaccounted for.

She was given full control over the management of the company's finances and had abused the trust placed in her. Her use of multiple modes of misappropriation showed a high level of sophistication and there was pre-meditation , he said.

She could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each charge.