9 months' jail for ex-mosque employee who misappropriated nearly $38k

SINGAPORE - A corporate service officer of Darul Aman mosque entrusted to collect monies for items such as public donations and payments for religious classes ended up misappropriating nearly $38,000 at the place of worship.

Marlina Abdul Rahman committed the offence from March 2017 until July last year.

The 36-year-old former mosque employee pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Jan 8) to one count of criminal breach of trust involving nearly $15,000 and was sentenced to nine months' jail.

Two other similar charges related to the remaining amount were considered during sentencing.

She has made partial restitution of $4,800.

Marlina, who worked for the mosque in Jalan Eunos from January 2017 until August last year, committed the offence just two months after she started her employment there.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said that she used her ill-gotten gains to pay for items such as her family expenses.

Her criminal acts came to light some time last August after the mosque's corporate and estate manager, Ms Farlida Mohamed, discovered a shortage of $4,800 from the cash it collected around the Hari Raya Haji period.

She conducted a check and found 219 manual receipts issued by Marlina.

The DPP told District Judge Luke Tan that manual receipts are meant only as a backup if the mosque's accounting system is down.

He added: "(Ms Farlida) made a thorough check and discovered that 155 out of the 219 manual receipts were not registered in the accounting system.

"In addition, nine out of 64 manual receipts that were registered with the accounting system, were logged with a lower amount in the system."

The mosque, in consultation with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), lodged a police report on Oct 23 last year.

Muis said in a statement that it takes a serious view of any financial impropriety at its mosques, adding that there are policies and procedures in place to ensure good governance in them.

"Muis continuously reviews these measures to meet national regulatory standards and benchmarks. These policies and procedures are necessary to uphold the community's trust of our religious institutions."

Muis has conducted refresher training on the Mosque Financial Regulations (MFR) for mosque staff and members of the management boards over the past few years as well as regular independent audits on all mosques to ensure compliance with the rules.

Marlina, who was unrepresented, wept as she stood in the dock.

She pleaded for leniency and told the court that she had recently found out that she was pregnant.

For criminal breach of trust, she could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

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