Ex-chief priest of Sri Mariamman Temple allegedly misappropriated multiple pieces of jewellery

Indian national Kandasamy Senapathi is said to have committed the offences between 2016 and last year. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The former chief priest of Sri Mariamman Temple in South Bridge Road has been hauled to court over allegations that he misappropriated multiple pieces of jewellery from the Hindu place of worship.

Indian national Kandasamy Senapathi, 37, was on Tuesday (Feb 16) charged with five counts each of criminal breach of trust and dealing with the benefits of his alleged criminal activities.

He is said to have committed the offences between 2016 and last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Janice See said that the pawn value of the jewellery is more than $2 million.

Kandasamy is also accused of removing from Singapore benefits of his alleged ill-gotten gains totalling more than $140,000.

He is said to have remitted the monies to India through financial institutions such as the State Bank of India and the Indian Overseas Bank.

The temple said in a statement last year that gold ornaments are frequently used for prayers.

They are kept in the custody of the chief priest in the inner sanctum of the temple, with regular audits conducted to ensure that the ornaments are physically accounted for.

A spokesman for Sri Mariamman Temple said the items were discovered missing during the last audit in 2020.

The chief priest was then questioned. The missing items were subsequently returned.

"As it appeared that an offence (had) been committed, a police report was lodged notwithstanding the fact that the temple suffered no loss," added the spokesman.

The Hindu Endowments Board told The Straits Times on Tuesday that Kandasamy was terminated from his post after the temple discovered the loss.

He has been on a special pass here since.

Defence lawyer Mohan Das Naidu told the court that Kandasamy has made full restitution.

His bail was set at $100,000 and his case has been adjourned to March 15.

For each count of criminal breach of trust, an offender can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

And for each count of dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.

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