4 years' jail for former MD of food firm who misappropriated more than $1m

SINGAPORE - The managing director (MD) of an international food trading firm misappropriated more than $1 million from it between 2016 and 2018.

Ho Soo Ann, who was Frosts Food International's MD from 2001 to 2018, proceeded to gamble away his ill-gotten gains and has made no restitution.

On Thursday (Dec 17), the 57-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust involving more than $700,000 and was sentenced to four years' jail.

A similar charge involving the remaining amount was considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Shao Yan said that while working for the firm, Ho was responsible for overseeing its business operations including its revenue and account transactions.

He was entrusted with collecting payments from the company's overseas customers but breached the trust placed in him when he misappropriated more than $700,000 from Sept 2, 2016 to Aug 2, 2017.

The DPP said: "He did so by directing the overseas customers to make payments for their orders with the company into the accused's personal bank account... instead of the company's corporate bank account.

"The overseas customers did not suspect that there was anything amiss with the accused's directions because they had been in business with the company for over 10 years and trusted the accused as the managing director of the company."

In June 2018, Ho lied to the chairman of the Citystate Group, the parent company of Frosts Food International, claiming that two of its overseas customers owed it US$929,300.17 (S$1.23 million) in total.

The court heard that the two overseas customers had, in fact, made payments to Ho's personal bank account.

In an effort to cover his tracks, he also stopped Frosts Food International from selling products to them.

Ho finally came clean to the chairman in February last year and admitted that he had misappropriated the company's funds.

Addressing Principal District Judge Toh Han Li from the dock on Thursday, Ho said that he regretted his actions.

He pleaded for a lighter sentence and added that he had hurt his family.

For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.