Woman jailed 32 months for misappropriating $330,000

SINGAPORE - A woman was jailed 32 months on Monday for misappropriating almost $330,000 from a corporate gifts business she set up with a business partner.

Over six months in 2012, Ong Mei Yan told her partner, Mr Richard David Arvey, the money was needed to fill orders their firm had purportedly received and used the entire sum for her personal expenses. She was found out after her partner asked for his initial capital and his share of the profits. He made a police report after growing tired of her excuses.

Ong, who is 27, was sentenced after pleading guilty to committing criminal breach of trust, between March 7 and Aug 31 that year.

The court heard that she had set up the business together with Mr Arvey, 69, an acquaintance of several years. The firm, named Colere, sold items such as pins and purses and was run out of Mr Arvey's home.

Ong's role was to manage day-to-day affairs, including taking orders, while Mr Arvey, a business professor at the National University of Singapore, provided the investment capital.

In total, Ong took $329,175 of the firm's money and this was transferred into her personal bank account instead of the firm's.

Calling for a jail term of 3 1/2 years, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi pointed out the substantial sum involved. He pointed out, among other things, that Ong had been sentenced to six months in jail in 2011 for offences also involving dishonesty - and the same victim, Mr Arvey.

Ong's lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, said she should be jailed for about two years instead. She has been diagnosed with depression and a pathological gambling disorder, Mr Sudheesan said, adding that Ong was remorseful.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said there was a link between Ong's condition and offence, though this was not significant enough to warrant a substantial discount on her punishment.

Ong could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.