Man who misappropriated over $150k worth of pork and chicken from employer gets jail

Tan Han Boon was entrusted with $2,000 each month to purchase food ingredients from suppliers. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A restaurant assistant manager fraudulently bought food products including pork and chicken worth more than $150,000 using his employer’s money, then resold them and pocketed the cash.

Tan Han Boon, 50, was on Thursday sentenced to 18 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to criminal breach of trust.

He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of driving without a licence and was sentenced to an additional two weeks’ jail.

He will be disqualified from holding all classes of driving licences for two years from his date of release.

The court heard that he was employed at Kanada-Ya, a Japanese ramen restaurant, from November 2019 and his monthly salary was $2,800.

He was in charge of hiring and supervising the part-time staff at the company and was entrusted with $2,000 each month to purchase food ingredients from suppliers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jia En said Tan hired no less than three part-time staff who were paid $8 an hour.

“Sometime in November 2019, when the accused attempted to claim reimbursement from the company, (it) was concerned about whether the part-time staff hired by the accused were in compliance with the Ministry of Manpower’s requirements. As a result, the company did not reimburse the accused immediately,” said DPP Tay.

As he had already hired them, he had to pay their salaries out of his own pocket while waiting for reimbursement.

That month, Tan took a loan from an unlicensed moneylender to pay for the salaries of the part-time staff that he had hired.

In order to settle the repayments to the unlicensed moneylender, the accused started misappropriating food products from the company’s store in July 2020 to sell them to other suppliers.

Eventually, Tan devised a scheme to fraudulently purchase food products on the company’s account, resell the products to other suppliers and pocket the proceeds.

He sold these products at a price below the market rate and resold the products to about 10 buyers.

Between July 18, 2020, and Oct 7, 2020, Tan made 28 fraudulent purchases using the company’s account.

The accused also admitted to pocketing $1,200 in petty cash which was meant for payment to a raw eggs supplier. In total, Tan misappropriated more than $154,000 from the company. No restitution has been made to date. 

The company discovered his offences in early October 2020 and his employment was terminated.

Seeking 30 months’ jail for Tan’s criminal breach of trust offence, DPP Tay said this was Tan’s fifth time appearing before the court for committing criminal breach of trust.

In 2013, he had misappropriated more than $16,000 from a food court he was working in to repay his online betting debts.

But DPP Tay said that in this case, the accused was not motivated by greed or personal benefit.

He noted that Tan’s motivation for committing the offences was the burgeoning moneylender interest payments that accrued as a result of the delay he faced in getting reimbursement. 

Defence lawyer Asoka Markandu reiterated that his client was not motivated by personal greed, but that he was put in a difficult position at his job and as he had expected to be reimbursed when the time came but was not.

Upon sentencing, District Judge Kow Keng Siong noted that there were exceptional factors in this case to cause the accused to offend.

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

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