Ex-church accountant jailed for siphoning over $380K

A former church accountant and office assistant was jailed for five years on Monday for pocketing $346,945. Lim Seng Hoo, 56, who pleaded guilty, was employed by Norwegian Seamen's Mission Church when he committed criminal breach of trust of the amount from Jan 17, 2011 and Jan 16 last year.

A district court heard that he siphoned money from the bank account of the church during the period using various methods. To cover his tracks, he would disguise the outflow of cash as loans.

His offences came to light in January last year when the head office of the Church in Norway conducted checks and asked the manager here to explain the unauthorised "loans''. Puzzled, the manager called Lim who assured him that these "loans'' were simply internal transfers of the funds. Lim could not be contacted after the Chinese New Year and the manager lodged a missing persons report.

Lim later admitted to taking the funds from the church account for his own use. His services was terminated on Jan 27 last year. A second charge involving $36,750 was taken into consideration. No restitution has been made. Lim, who is wheelchair-bound, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for criminal breach of trust as a servant.