Clerk jailed for siphoning $388,000 from firm

Malaysian Ellise Teo, 22, was jailed for three years and three months for committing criminal breach of trust. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Over a period of about eight months, a 21-year-old shipping clerk siphoned $388,711.61 from her employer and treated herself to luxury goods from Chanel and a brand new Toyota Vios in Malaysia.

Malaysian Ellise Teo, now 22, will have to settle for drab prison garb after being jailed for three years and three months yesterday. She had pleaded guilty last month to committing criminal breach of trust between Sept 30, 2015, and May 19 last year while working at logistics company UBTS.

Teo had joined the company, which deals with the transportation of containers, on July 13, 2015, and, two months later, was tasked to assist an officer from the accounts department, said Assistant Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran. The department handles claims by drivers who had used their own funds for expenses they incurred while operating container lorries. It also handles advance salary claims by employees.

Employees who ask for advance salaries must obtain approval from UBTS' managing director. He will then sign a payment voucher to approve the amount to be disbursed.

Teo, who processed these payments, used different methods to siphon money. APP Thiagesh told District Judge Lorraine Ho: "The accused would obtain amounts that had been paid to employees seeking reimbursement. For example, if the employee claimed $300, the accused would amend the amount to $1,300 and misappropriate the difference of $1,000."

Teo also obtained the managing director's signature on payment vouchers to deceive the finance department into believing that employees were seeking advance salaries even though they were not. She would then pocket the amount stated on the payment voucher.

Teo also created vouchers which duplicated payments that had already been made to employees before keeping the money for herself. She used some of the money to buy a brand new Toyota Vios in Malaysia worth RM85,000 (S$27,200) and luxury goods from Chanel worth $9,437.86.

Teo has made no restitution and APP Thiagesh said there is no information on what she did with the remaining monies. She was caught after the firm's finance department conducted an audit in March last year and an executive uncovered several discrepancies.

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

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline Clerk jailed for siphoning $388,000 from firm. Subscribe