Former tour manager of travel agency jailed for misappropriating $35,000

SINGAPORE - A former tour manager of a travel company was jailed for five months on Monday (May 22) for criminal breach of trust of close to $35,000.

Natesapillai Atchayalingam, 52, an Indian national, was employed by Serangoon Air Travel at its The Verge outlet in Serangoon Road when he committed the offence between January and December last year.

A discrepancy was discovered when a customer went to the travel agency on Jan 10 this year and asked for the tickets of his tour package to India.

The customer said that he had made full payment to Natesapillai, even though this was not reflected in the company's records. The customer subsequently sent a photo of an invoice which he received.

But the director of the company found that the invoice had not been issued by the company and records showed outstanding payments.

He lodged a police report the next day alleging that Natesapillai had misappropriated cash of $22,763 belonging to the company.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ian Ernst Chai said that throughout 2016, Natesapillai misappropriated sums which were entrusted to him by customers.

He would ask customers to make transfers to his personal bank account. After receiving each payment, he would create an invoice number and enter the purchase into the company's accounting system, and proceed to purchase tour packages and flight tickets from various agents.

He would then manually enter partial payment for the particular customer into the system, even though full payment had been made. The company honoured these orders for tour packages and flights.

In some instances, he would issue a fake invoice to a client.

Between January and December last year he misappropriated $34,639 from 43 customers. He claims to have spent the money on personal expenses. Full restitution has been made.

He could have been jailed for up to seven years and/or fined.