Man admits to misappropriating over $1.7m from employer

Chow Pak Thong pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal breach of trust involving more than $1.1 million on May 19, 2021.
Chow Pak Thong pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal breach of trust involving more than $1.1 million on May 19, 2021.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - An accounting manager who misappropriated more than $1.7 million from his employer threatened a director of the firm with a knife when confronted over the missing funds.

Chow Pak Thong was fired the same day. But he found himself in more trouble after police investigations showed that the 67-year-old had misappropriated the monies from his employer by using pre-signed cheques and creating falsified payment vouchers to cover his tracks.

Chow did this between 2012 and 2019 while working for maritime shipping firm BSA Transportation. The Singaporean is no longer with the firm, which he joined in 1992.

On Wednesday (May 19), he pleaded guilty in a district court to four counts of criminal breach of trust involving more than $1.1 million.

Chow also admitted to four counts of falsification of accounts.

Nine other charges, including one count of criminal intimidation and four more counts of criminal breach of trust linked to the remaining amount, will be considered during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Matthew Choo said that as an accounting manager, Chow had to perform tasks, including preparing BSA Transportation's general ledgers.

Chow was one of three authorised signatories for the firm's bank account. The company's two directors were the other signatories.

Around Jan 19, 2012, Chow hatched a plan to siphon monies from the account.

The DPP said: "The accused would request for pre-signed cheques with one of the directors' signatures... Thereafter, he would fill in the pre-signed cheque with the desired amount to be encashed.

"The accused would prepare corresponding payment vouchers of the company, with the vouchers reflecting the corresponding cheque number and amount to be encashed."

Chow would state fictitious reasons in the payment vouchers.

After that, he would use the fictitious payment vouchers as supporting documents in the company's ledgers.

On July 3, 2019, the firm's two directors confronted Chow after noticing discrepancies in the firm's statement of accounts and bank statements.

The situation escalated and Chow used a knife to threaten one of the directors. Chow's employment was terminated later that day and the police were alerted on July 4, 2019.

Chow, who has made no restitution, is now out on bail of $50,000 and will be sentenced on July 14.

For each count of criminal breach of trust, an offender can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.