Jail for ex-property agent who misappropriated more than $132k of his client's money

SINGAPORE - A property agent, engaged by a client who wanted to buy a condominium unit in Singapore, ended up misappropriating more than $132,000 of her money.

Lim Yi Han, who used to work for Huttons Asia, then used his ill-gotten gains to renovate his own home and buy items such as furniture.

A search on the Council for Estate Agencies' public register did not reveal any information about him.

The 38-year-old Singaporean pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Jan 29) to one count of criminal breach of trust and was sentenced to two years' jail.

Some time in 2015, an Australian woman identified as Ms Sim Kheng, 29, wanted to buy a property in Singapore and engaged Lim's services.

She later decided to buy a condominium unit here and signed an option to purchase it on June 9 that year.

Its purchase price was $765,558, the court heard.

Ms Sim then transferred nearly $330,000 in total to Lim's personal bank account between July 9, 2015, and Feb 17, 2016.

From this sum, he issued two cheques for more than $190,000 to the developer, Development 72.

He also used about $3,300 of the amount to pay a conveyancing fee.

Lim then pocketed the remainder and unlawfully converted the cash for his own use.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mansoor Amir said: "As a result of using the complainant's money for his own purposes, the accused defaulted on certain payments under the sales and purchase agreement of the property. The developer therefore exercised its rights to forfeit the property."

The DPP added that the developer also forfeited $153,111.60 out of the sum that Ms Sim had paid and charged her a late payment penalty of $4,179.52.

She lodged a police report against Lim on Aug 11, 2018.

DPP Mansoor told District Judge Ong Chin Rhu that to date, Lim has made a voluntary compensation of A$18,000 (S$16,500).

The former property agent, who was unrepresented, pleaded for leniency in court on Wednesday.

For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined.

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