SINGAPORE - A project manager with the National Library Board (NLB) was jailed for three years and eight months, and fined $270,000 on Monday (July 3) after making use of a library database to help an illegal moneylender gather information on debtors.
Ang Boon Sin, now 39, repeatedly abused the NLB Spydus database which contains all members' information such as their names, NRIC numbers, addresses and phone numbers.
He would perform these searches after work in his home between 8pm and 10pm, gather the data and hand them over to a loan shark known only as Johnson.
The court heard that he accessed Spydus without authorisation to obtain information on at least 180 NLB members.
Ang, who worked in the NLB for six years, pleaded guilty on Monday to 10 counts of making unauthorised access to computer material, nine counts of assisting an unlicensed moneylender and one count of removing from Singapore benefits of Johnson's criminal conduct. He committed these offences in 2015.
The court heard 463 other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Marcus Foo said Ang had been facing financial difficulties since 2001 and sometime in late 2014, he considered taking up loans from unlicensed moneylenders to ease his woes. He later borrowed $5,000 from Johnson but was unable to repay the amount.
DPP Foo added: "Sometime in March 2015, Johnson made the accused an offer to work as his runner. In return, a portion of the accused's debts would be waived in that he would no longer need to pay the weekly interest of $2,500 but the remaining $1,000 monthly for a period of 10 months."
Ang accepted the offer and helped the loan shark in his syndicate.
His tasks included creating a website advertising Johnson's illegal business, producing unlicensed moneylending advertisements with graphics, collecting cash from Johnson's runners and making cash deposits.
Johnson also told Ang that he wanted his debtors' contact numbers and updated addresses so that he could send his runners after them or call them up should they become uncontactable.
"Johnson also informed that he wanted the debtor's neighbours' and employers' particulars, so that he could send runners to ascertain the whereabouts of the debtors from the said neighbours and employers," said DPP Foo.
The court heard that besides the NLB Spydus database, Ang also made use of Internet-based platforms such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's myTax Portal and the Central Provident Fund Board's my cpf Online Services to gather information for Johnson.
DPP Foo said that to date, the authorities have not established Johnson's true identity.
Before handing out the sentence, District Judge Wong Li Tien said that Ang's offences could send "a chill down the spine" of some 2.4 million NLB members who make up almost half of Singapore's population.
Stressing that he could have exposed their personal information to loan sharks, she added he had seriously abused his position in NLB and had done it a "great disservice".
Ang could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000 for each count of making an unauthorised access to computer material.
He could have been jailed for up to four years and fined between $30,000 and $300,000 for each count of assisting an unlicensed moneylender.