SCDF director guilty of pocketing iPads

Jeganathan Ramasamy
Jeganathan Ramasamy

A former Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) director of the technology department was yesterday convicted of two charges of misappropriating two iPads after a 10-day trial.

Jeganathan Ramasamy, 63, had claimed trial to criminal breach of trust of two iPad 2 tablets, totalling $1,877, by converting them to his own use in September 2011. He gave one to his daughter and sold the other to a colleague for $200.

The prosecution's case was that the tablets were entrusted to him as a public servant for trial use. Despite knowing this, he dishonestly misappropriated the items.

The defence's case was that he understood the tablets were handed to him to buy in his personal capacity.

Among Jeganathan's duties as a director of the technology department was to oversee the implementation and maintenance of all Infocomm Technology (ICT) systems in the SCDF.

In February 2011, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore invited SCDF participants to enrol in a trial using the iPad. Jeganathan met the group general manager of ICT company NCS, Mr Wong Soon Nam, and his colleagues at the SCDF headquarters on Sept 7, 2011.

During a coffee break, he noticed that the NCS staff were using iPad 2s, and was told they had been bought using an NCS staff discount.

The next day, Jeganathan sent a text message to Mr Wong stating that he was "serious about the iPAD... Any good news''.

Mr Wong took this to mean that Jeganathan was interested in the trial involving the iPad 2, and asked a colleague to follow up.

After the two iPad 2 tablets were delivered to Jeganathan's office, he sent a message to Mr Wong a week later, on Sept 26, inquiring about the amount he had to pay.

Mr Wong replied that the iPad 2 was "meant for all the new mobile apps that we are rolling out for SCDF and for you to trial''. He also said the tool was to facilitate testing. Jeganathan replied: "Noted.''

In his brief oral grounds, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he found that Mr Wong was unable to recall Jeganathan asking to buy the iPad 2 for his personal use.

Mr Wong also could not recall that he had replied that he would check and get back to Jeganathan.

The judge accepted the NCS witnesses' evidence on the Sept 7 discussion, that it was clear to them they had agreed the tablets would be delivered to Jeganathan for trial, not personal use. The judge said he could not see how Jeganathan could have misunderstood.

He adjourned the case to Nov 16 for mitigation and for Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi to submit on sentence. The maximum penalty is 20 years' jail and a fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'SCDF director guilty of pocketing iPads'. Print Edition | Subscribe