Jail for ex-PCF principal who took $70,000

Koh spent the centre's money on "personal and family expenses" and the court heard that she had made no restitution.
Koh spent the centre's money on "personal and family expenses" and the court heard that she had made no restitution.

She gets five months' prison time for pilfering pre-school fees

As principal of a PAP Community Foundation (PCF) pre-school, she was entrusted with the fees collected.

But Anna Koh, alias Susie Koh, 54, abused her position and misappropriated more than $70,000 from her workplace in Jurong West Street 52.

Koh was jailed for five months yesterday for committing the offence between 2010 and 2012.

On Jan 26, she had pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust involving about $50,000. Two similar charges involving the rest of the money were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh said parents would pay the centre's teachers and the money would then be given to Koh.

She was the only officer entrusted with depositing the money into the centre's bank account. But she would deposit only some of the money, the prosecutor said, adding that Koh spent the rest on "her personal and family expenses".

Her offences came to light after an anonymous tip-off to PCF in October 2012. An internal audit showed that Koh had received fees without depositing the money.

A police report was made three months later.

The court heard that she had made no restitution.

Her lawyer, Mr Wendell Wong, had asked for District Judge Jasvender Kaur to call for a pre-sentencing report to determine his client's suitability for probation.

If not, he urged the judge to sentence Koh to between two and three months' jail.

Mr Wong said his client faced financial difficulties as a result of a "matrimonial betrayal" by her former husband, who he said had abandoned the family and left her with his debts of about $90,000.

Yesterday, Judge Kaur said that there was no need to call for the pre-sentencing report.

She said Koh should have looked for lawful ways to ease her financial burden, adding that she had taken advantage of her trusted position as the centre's principal.

In response to Straits Times queries, PCF said Koh had worked for the foundation for about six years.

It added: "PCF staff are provided with regular training and are required to adhere to the organisation's financial standard operating procedures.

"Audits are conducted regularly to verify compliance. Any non- compliance is thoroughly investigated and subject to PCF's disciplinary panel."

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Jail for ex-PCF principal who took $70,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe