Manager staged robbery at workplace after misappropriating employer's monies

Lee Kah Yeow roped in Tan Lye Meng and told him to go to the Rivervale Plaza Kopitiam outlet on March 3 last year to carry out the staged robbery.
Lee Kah Yeow roped in Tan Lye Meng and told him to go to the Rivervale Plaza Kopitiam outlet on March 3 last year to carry out the staged robbery.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A manager of eatery firm Kopitiam Investment, who claimed to have owed banks about $40,000, staged a robbery at his workplace after misappropriating his employer's monies.

Lee Kah Yeow, 49, misappropriated more than $26,000 in total and used the money to repay gambling debts he had incurred.

Lee roped in Tan Lye Meng, 48, and told him to go to the Rivervale Plaza Kopitiam outlet on March 3 last year to carry out the staged robbery.

Lee was sentenced on Thursday (March 12) to 25 weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

Tan was sentenced to seven years and seven months' jail, with six strokes of the cane in January. He had pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving stolen property, four drug-related offences and an unrelated housebreaking charge.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi said that as a manager, Lee's duties included handling the daily cash sales at the Kopitiam outlet.

She added that Lee had to check the previous day's sales, count the cash inside a safe located within the outlet's management office and fill up a "day end report".

In late February last year, he met Tan, who agreed to take part in the staged robbery.

Lee told Tan to bring a knife and that the incident would be captured by closed-circuit television cameras in the area.

Lee also told Tan that he could keep the entire sum stolen from the outlet's safe.

Tan did as he was told at around 11.45am on March 3 last year and made off with $6,000 worth of stolen property. Lee made a police report soon after.

Court documents do not state how the crimes were uncovered but officers arrested Lee three days later. Tan was caught the next day.

Lee has since made a full restitution.

Before handing down the sentence on Thursday, District Judge Marvin Bay said that Lee had worked for Kopitiam for 18 years and had risen to "the trusted position" of manager.

The judge added: "I note the elaborate lengths you went to (in order) to lend an air of authenticity by giving stage directions to your accomplice to exercise a measure of aggression and brutality... I do note your full restitution of the monies taken."

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