Operations manager of Pet Movers jailed for forging permits

Operations manager of Pet Movers Tan Moh Tien, 26, was jailed for six months on Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014, for misappropriating an Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) rubber stamp and committing forgery. -- ST PHOTO:&n
Operations manager of Pet Movers Tan Moh Tien, 26, was jailed for six months on Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014, for misappropriating an Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) rubber stamp and committing forgery. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The operations manager of Pet Movers was collecting documents from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) office at the Changi Airfreight Centre when he found an AVA rubber stamp inadvertently inserted into the envelope that was handed to him.

Tan Moh Tien, 26, decided to misappropriate the rubber stamp. He later used it to make it appear that the AVA had endorsed a total of nine permits from Australia, Taiwan and Japan to allow the transport of dogs to those countries. He also forged the signature of AVA's chief veterinarian for these permits.

He was jailed for six months on Tuesday for the offences.

When he pleaded guilty last November to misappropriating the rubber stamp and forging the permits, a district court heard that the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry alerted AVA in March about the permits. A dog brought in by its owner had tested positive for the Ehrlichia canis ticks in Singapore but the Australian permit indicated that the dog, named Rex, was not afflicted with the condition.

Investigations revealed that Tan had forged permits for four clients to bring in a total of nine dogs into Australia, Taiwan and Japan. The four pet owners were unaware that the documents were false.

Asking the court to impose only a fine, Tan, who was unrepresented, said that he had forged the permits out of convenience and that there was little financial gain for him. AVA was then charging $46 to endorse such a permit.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh argued for a jail sentence as Tan had violated safeguards to minimise the risk of animal-borne diseases being carried into other countries and had jeopardised AVA's reputation.

Agreeing, District Judge Eugene Teo said that Tan's offences had "struck at the heart of AVA's whole export approval regime".

Tan had "effectively set up shop as an unauthorised one-man AVA to independently and fraudulently grant export approvals", added the judge, who also noted that Rex had to be put down.

Tan could have been jailed for up to two years and fined for misappropriating the rubber stamp and up to four years and fined for committing forgery.

khush@sph.com.sg

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