Jail for man who misappropriated over $71k while working for two firms

Tay Wee Ben pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A man misappropriated more than $71,000 while working for two firms dealing with used vehicles. In one instance, he withdrew nearly $55,000 from the bank account of one company, leaving only $2.80 in it.

On Wednesday (April 13), Tay Wee Ben, 53, was jailed for 10 months after he pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust. He did not make any restitution in both cases.

While managing the business of Alpha-Cars Enterprises, Tay took nearly $55,000 from the firm and its owner between 2015 and 2016, leaving behind only $2.80 in the company's bank account.

Tay later joined VS AutoInc in 2018 and misappropriated $16,500 entrusted to him. He also withdrew all the money that was in the firm's bank account and took its Internet banking token.

Court documents did not state the amount in VS AutoInc's bank account at the time or whether its management alerted the police about the matter.

The court heard that in mid-2015, Tay had agreed to set up a business to buy and sell used cars with a man identified as Mr Tan Poh Seng, 47.

Defence lawyer Riko Isaac from Tembusu Law told the court that Mr Tan was the registered owner of Alpha-Cars and was Tay's close friend at the time.

The lawyer also said that Mr Tan invested money in the business while Tay managed its day-to-day operations.

Tay had access to the firm's cheque book and an Internet banking token for its bank account.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jun Chong said that between July 15 and Nov 13, 2015, Mr Tan transferred $40,000 into the firm's bank account.

He also transferred at least $30,000 into Tay's personal bank account and the amount was supposed to be used for the company's business and daily operations.

But in January 2016, Mr Tan sensed that something was amiss with the firm's accounts and asked Tay for an update on its finances.

Tay did not give an update and instead replied that there was money in the firm's bank account. He also gave Mr Tan various excuses to avoid addressing the matter.

On April 27 that year, Mr Tan wrote a cheque for $12,000 and tried to withdraw the amount from the company's bank account, only to realise there was only $2.80 left inside.

Mr Tan checked and found that $54,930 was unaccounted for. He confronted Tay who admitted that he had taken the cash for his personal use.

The DPP said: "The accused agreed to make repayment and signed a letter of confession... stating that should he fail to make repayment, he was willing to be charged with criminal breach of trust."

Tay later failed to keep his word and Mr Tan lodged a police report on May 6, 2016.

In January 2018, Tay joined VS AutoInc. Mr Isaac said that a man, Mr Gary Lim, later asked for Tay's help in selling a car.

On Aug 2, 2019, Tay told Mr Lim that he had found a potential buyer who was willing to buy the vehicle for $18,000.

Mr Lim agreed to receive $16,500 from the proceeds after deducting repair costs and Tay's commission.

But Tay failed to transfer the promised amount to Mr Lim after selling the car and instead used the money to renew the certificate of entitlement for another second-hand vehicle that Tay was trying to sell. Mr Lim lodged a police report on Aug 21, 2019.

On Wednesday, Mr Isaac pleaded for Tay to be given not more than nine months' jail, stressing that his client is "immensely remorseful".

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

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