Money-changer employee jailed for absconding with almost $500,000

Indian national Bahurudeen Kuthpudeen had fled to Malaysia after encashing three cash cheques he had received from his employer.

SINGAPORE - A business development manager, who received three cash cheques from his employer, fled to Malaysia after he encashed them and pocketed almost $500,000.

Indian national Bahurudeen Kuthpudeen, 44, was jailed for 3-1/2 years on Monday (Sept 24) after pleading guilty to one count each of criminal breach of trust and removing from Singapore the benefits of his criminal conduct.

The court heard that his employer A M Mohamed Farook, who operates Mohamed Thahir Exchange in Collyer Quay, signed three cash cheques for a total amount of $469,900 at around 3pm on March 27 this year. The cheques were meant to be encashed for the purchase of foreign currencies.

He handed the cheques to an employee known only as Babu, who passed them to Bahurudeen.

The business development manager then encashed the cheques at an RHB Bank branch in nearby Cecil Street.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melissa Ng said: "Instead of returning to the company, the accused left Singapore via the Woodlands checkpoint bus hall at 4.46pm."

When his colleagues failed to find him, they alerted Mr A M Mohamed. He tried to contact Bahurudeen on his mobile phone but received a ring tone that is usually heard in overseas calls. He then made a police report.

DPP Ng told District Judge Luke Tan that Bahurudeen was later detained at the border of Kedah when he attempted to leave Malaysia for Thailand. Cash totalling almost $24,000 was found in his possession and seized.

The Straits Times had earlier reported that officers from the Royal Malaysia Police arrested Bahurudeen on March 28 - a day after he encashed the cheques - and he was sent back to Singapore on March 29.

Lawyer Siraj Shaik Aziz, who was assigned to the case under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, said that $458,652 of the misappropriated amount has been recovered.

Mr Siraj added that his client was his family's sole breadwinner. His wife had stayed home in India to look after their 13-year-old daughter who has a disability in her hand.

Stressing that Bahurudeen is "genuinely remorseful", the lawyer told the court : "It was financial difficulties brought on by the need to service a loan for his daughter's hand operation that prompted the commission of the offences in a momentary lapse of judgment."

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