Jail for man whose company collected public donations without a licence

SINGAPORE - A man ran a company that collected public donations without a licence and failed to provide the necessary documents when ordered by the Commissioner of Charities.

On Wednesday (Jan 23), Cavin Tan Cher Kuan, 36, was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail and a fine of $2,000.

This is believed to be the first case in which a person is convicted of an offence for not complying with the Commissioner of Charities' order to provide information on a fundraising appeal.

The Singaporean pleaded guilty to one count each of offences under the House to House and Street Collections Act and the Charities Act.

Tan also admitted that he had dealt with counterfeit designer apparel and used criminal force on a police officer.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Benjamin Samynathan told the court that Tan incorporated his firm, Joint Creation International (JCI), on Aug 21, 2013.

Two months later, his company entered an agreement with Spade Auto, a firm involved in the repair and maintenance of motor vehicles.

For one month, JCI would sell vouchers at $10 each that would entitle the buyer to a $50 discount at Spade Auto.

JCI also employed at least five people, including Mr Jasper Phua Kian Wee, who was 18 years old at the time.

On Nov 8, 2013, police received a call from a Parkway Parade security officer saying a group of youngsters were disturbing shoppers at the mall.

A police officer then spotted Mr Phua selling vouchers near the mall and spoke to the teenager, who admitted that Tan had told him that the proceeds would "go to charity, orphans and needy people".

The DPP told District Judge Ong Hian Sun that JCI did not have a licence to promote collections.

He added: "(Mr Phua) stated that he did not know that JCI did not possess any collection licence. For his involvement, he was administered a stern warning in lieu of prosecution."

After this, JCI was renamed Alliance Career Entrepreneurship (ACE).

Tan then persuaded non-profit organisation En Community Services Society (ECSS), which helps dysfunctional families, to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ACE for a "fundraiser" to be conducted between Feb 10 and May 10, 2014.

Under the terms of the agreement, ACE would make a monthly donation of between $3,000 and $5,000 to ECSS.

With this MOU, Tan successfully obtained a House to House and Street Collections licence, which enabled the firm to solicit donations on behalf of ECSS.

DPP Benjamin said: "Subsequently, ECSS received multiple complaints about ACE's employees' aggressive sales tactics... However, after the expiry of the MOU between ACE and ECSS, the... licence was not renewed by the police due to the number of complaints received. In addition, no payments were made to ECSS under the MOU."

On Oct 29, 2014, Tan was issued an order by the Commissioner of Charities, asking him to furnish, by Nov 18 that year, documents relating to matters including ACE's fundraising activities as well as the identities of its staff and volunteers.

Tan did not comply with the order and was given a final warning on Nov 21, 2014.

To date, he has not provided any of the required information.

In addition, he also hit a police officer's hand in August 2015 and dealt with counterfeit goods last year.

Tan is out on bail of $15,000 and was ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on Feb 20 to begin serving his sentence.