Ex-finance manager jailed 4 1/2 years for siphoning $795,000

A former finance manager of a hardware product manufacturer who mispaporpriated nearly $800,000 over a four-year period was jailed for 4 1/2 years on Thursday.

Lee Lim Kiong, 43, then a finance manager and director of P.S.M. Fastener, faced five charges of criminal breach of trust as a servant and one of failing to provide disclosure of interest in transactions.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust of $160,171 between January and December 2011 and $452,474 between January and October last year.

For failing to declare to the company that he was a partner of "A" One Gallery which supplied stationery to PSM, he was fined $2,000.

A court heard that Lee started misappropriating money from the company in Pasir Panjang Road when he had financial difficulty as he was involved in excessive gambling and securities speculation. He had debts of about $500,000.

He would typically misappropriate small sums of less than $10,000, using irregular figures to avoid detection.

He used transaction code of "cost of goods sold'' when making such fraudulent transactions. For larger sums of more than $4,000 he would rely on other codes such as audit and travel expenses, customs and excise and accrued liabilities.

Between 2008 and October 2012, Lee managed to siphon $498,734 via 138 transactions. The total amount misappropriated came to $795,010.

The court heard that the amounts he took increased gradually from an average sum of $5,400 a month in 2009 to $15,200 last year.

When the company gave him an option to resign or face termination last October, he siphoned another $300,000 but returned this after confessing to his wife.

Three other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. Lee had his sentence deferred until May 23.