Ex-principal of childcare centre sentenced to 1 year, 10 months' jail after misappropriating over $200,000

Salina Abd Samat was the principal of Learning Vision Sunshine Place.
Salina Abd Samat was the principal of Learning Vision Sunshine Place.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A former principal of a childcare centre who misappropriated more than $200,000 from it was sentenced to one year and 10 months' jail on Monday (June 15).

Salina Abd Samat, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust as an employee , which relate to two periods - one in 2015 and the other in 2017 - for misappropriating $120,199.40 in total.

Two other similar charges were taken into consideration by District Judge Teoh Ai Lin during sentencing.

Salina was the principal of Learning Vision Sunshine Place, a childcare centre at Block 475 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3, when she committed the offences. She has since stopped working for Learning Vision @ Work, the company which operates the childcare centre.

As principal , Salina's responsibilities include registering new enrolments of children into the company's financial database system.

She was also responsible for collecting money for various fees, such as those for the children's registration and class photography, on behalf of the company.

However, Salina would pocket the cash paid for such fees and use them to pay her bills and for personal expenses instead.

The court heard that she misappropriated a total of $218,552.10, including fees for 79 children, between August 2014 and June 2017.

The amount also included petty cash, such as $477 intended as reimbursement to the other teachers of the childcare centre for the expenses they had incurred, which she took some time between January 2017 and July 2017.

 
 

To date, no restitution has been made to the company, although it has since been compensated by its insurance company.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Yu Chou said that Salina took steps to avoid detection by delaying or failing to register into the company's database system newly enrolled children to the centre whose fees she had collected from in cash.

"As the accused had allowed these children to attend classes, there was no suspicion raised among the parents that the accused had misappropriated the cash monies for her own personal use," he said.

The DPP said the company was not aware that the children were not properly enrolled as their particulars were not entered into the system.

It was later discovered through an audit in June 2017 that 12 children were physically attending classes at the centre, but did not have their particulars registered in the company's system.

 

The company's director, Mr Phang Chin Sian, lodged a police report the following month.

In mitigation, Salina's lawyer, Mr Zamiq Azmeer Borhanudin, told the court that his client was experiencing financial difficulties when she committed the offences.

For each charge of committing criminal breach of trust as an employee, Salina could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.