Jail, fine for ex-Singtel assistant manager who shared customers' details with loan shark

Pleo Sherwin Cubos retrieved information for a loan shark despite knowing that he not supposed to do so. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Unable to settle his debts with an unlicensed moneylender, an assistant manager with telecommunications company Singtel decided to help the loan shark by sharing with him the details of six Singtel customers.

A district court heard that Filipino Pleo Sherwin Cubos, 40, retrieved the information for the loan shark, who is known only as "Alan", despite knowing that he is not supposed to do so.

On Wednesday (Dec 30), Cubos, who is no longer working for Singtel, pleaded guilty to one count each of assisting a loan shark and an unrelated criminal breach of trust charge.

He was sentenced to three months and three weeks' jail and given a $30,000 fine; should he be unable to pay it, he will spend an additional six weeks behind bars.

Cubos earned a base pay of about $5,000 a month at his job and was in need of cash some time in late January. He responded to a Facebook advertisement for loan facilities to borrow $500.

He was then told to fork out $350 as interest per week until he was able to repay the principal sum of $500.

Cubos started to take up more loans as he was unable to settle his debt, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh said: "In the short span of two weeks, the accused's debts had snowballed to about $3,000 across five different unlicensed moneylenders.

"As the accused was unable to repay his debts, he began to be harassed by the unlicensed moneylenders, which included (being shown) footage of a house being set on fire and an unknown individual standing outside his apartment."

The loan shark called Alan later sent Cubos a list of identity card numbers as well as phone numbers as he knew the Filipino was working for Singtel.

Alan told Cubos that he would stop harassing him if Cubos agreed to access Singtel's internal data system, known as CRM, to screen the numbers and retrieve details such as the customers' addresses.

Cubos did as he was told and screened the records of 27 customers on CRM between Feb 20 and April 25 even though he was not authorised to do so. He then sent the details of six customers to Alan.

In March and April, Cubos also pawned three of Singtel's iPads worth nearly $2,000 in total to obtain at least $250 in return.

He then used the money for his personal expenses.

His supervisor found out about Cubos' offences and alerted the police on May 2.

In a statement on Wednesday, Singtel said: "We take customer data privacy very seriously and have zero tolerance to any breach. Once we found out, we promptly reported to the police and terminated his employment."

For helping an unlicensed moneylender, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined up to $300,000.

The offender can also be ordered to receive up to six strokes of the cane.

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