Man who took funds from sale of watch worth about $29k jailed for six months

Yap Hwee Koon, 48, was jailed for six months after he admitted to misappropriating a Hublot watch worth almost $29,000.
Yap Hwee Koon, 48, was jailed for six months after he admitted to misappropriating a Hublot watch worth almost $29,000. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - Three months after he was convicted and fined for criminal breach of trust of about $1,000, a watch dealer misappropriated a Hublot watch worth almost $29,000.

On Tuesday (Sept 26), Yap Hwee Koon, 48, was jailed for six months after he admitted to misappropriating a Hublot Big Bang Unico Full Magic Gold Chronograph watch worth $28,700 and accompanying items, entrusted to him by Mr Shahani Mahesh Bhagwan Gobind, 48, on June 22, 2016.

Mr Shahani, who owns a watch exporting company, had previously transacted a few watch sales with Yap.

The court heard that in late 2015, one Chen Dazhi, 36, a collector of watches, told Yap he wanted to buy a Hublot watch. Yap quoted him $29,800, and Chen paid a deposit of $15,000 for the watch.

Yap kept delaying delivery of the watch, saying that he was cheated by his suppliers, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jonathan Trachsel.

Sometime between March and April 2016, Yap contacted Mr Shahani to express interest in a Hublot watch, the same model that Mr Chen wanted to buy.

Mr Shahani then told Yap that he would place an order. Yap then transferred $3,000 to Mr Shahani's bank account.

On June 22, 2016, Yap met Mr Shahani at Far East Plaza, Scotts Road, to collect the watch, saying he had found a buyer.

When Mr Shahani met Yap, the buyer was not present. Yap asked him to hand over the watch first so he could take it to the buyer and collect the cash.

Mr Shahani was initially reluctant to do so as he wanted to hand the watch over directly to the buyer. Eventually, he relented.

DPP Trachsel said after handing over the watch, Mr Shahani's suspicions were aroused and he followed Yap to a nearby food and beverage outlet. From a distance, he saw Yap showing the watch to Mr Chen.

When Mr Shahani lost sight of Yap, he immediately tried to contact him but to no avail. Neither did Yap respond to his text message.

Mr Chen paid the balance of $14,800 to Yap.

Subsequently, the watch was found to be on sale at Goldman Luxury, a watch shop in Far East Plaza, which had bought it for $22,000 from Mr Chen in December 2016.

Yap had no intention to sell the watch on behalf of Mr Shahani but intended to sell it for his own benefit, the court heard.

Apart from the initial deposit of $3,000, no restitution has been made.

A disposal inquiry will be held for the watch which has competing claims.

DPP Trachsel sought a sentence of at least six months' jail to be imposed in view of the relatively high value of the property misappropriated and Yap's escalation in re-offending.

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