Prosecution calls for up to 3 years' jail for ex-mosque leader who misappropriated over $370k

Ab Mutalif Hashim admitted in March 2019 that he misappropriated more than $370,000 of Darussalam Mosque's cash collections from 2006 to 2013. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The prosecution has urged a district court to sentence the former chairman of a mosque's management board to up to three years' jail.

Ab Mutalif Hashim, 58, admitted last month that he misappropriated more than $370,000 of Darussalam Mosque's cash collections from 2006 to 2013.

On Monday (April 15), Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin told District Judge Ong Chin Rhu that Ab Mutalif had made no restitution.

The DPP stressed that he could have stopped committing his offences "at any time" but chose to carry on.

Defence lawyer Satwant Singh, who pleaded for Ab Mutalif to be given not more than a year in jail, said that his client is "a hero to many people", adding that he was a "driving force" behind the Commonwealth Avenue West mosque and had contributed to society.

Citing examples, Mr Singh said that his client had helped abused maids, homeless families and ex-offenders.

Ab Mutalif had earlier pleaded guilty to six criminal breach of trust charges involving more than $300,000. Eight other similar charges linked to the remaining amount will be considered during sentencing.

He was the board's chairman from 2003 to August 2010, before becoming its voluntary chairman until March 2013.

DPP Chin said the money had been donated to Darussalam Mosque by worshippers who made their contributions through donation chests and containers.

These were located within the Commonwealth Avenue West mosque during Friday prayer sessions.

The DPP added that after these sessions, Ab Mutalif asked the mosque's volunteers and other people to take the chests and containers to his office for "safekeeping".

Instead, he deposited some of the money into various bank accounts without the authorisation of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the mosque's management board.

DPP Chin told Judge Ong that Ab Mutalif used some of the monies received in his personal account to pay for things like credit card bills, family allowances, travelling and medical expenses.

In a statement, Muis said it alerted the police after detecting financial irregularities at the mosque in 2013.

It added: "Over the past few years, Muis has conducted refresher training on the mosque financial regulations to mosque staff and members of the mosque management boards to create greater awareness on the importance of good financial management.

"Muis has also put in place regular independent audits on all mosques to ensure compliance with the mosque financial regulations."

Ab Mutalif is now out on bail of $70,000 and is expected to be sentenced on April 24.

For each count of criminal breach of trust, he could be jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.