Restaurant manager jailed for misappropriating $200k

Lee Sung Eun misappropriated the money from his employer's bank account while he was the manager of Yokowa Japanese Restaurant (above), causing the eatery to close down. He was sentenced to 21/2 years' jail yesterday.
Lee Sung Eun misappropriated the money from his employer's bank account while he was the manager of Yokowa Japanese Restaurant (above), causing the eatery to close down. He was sentenced to 21/2 years' jail yesterday.PHOTO: YOKOWA.SG

The manager of a Japanese restaurant misappropriated more than $200,000 from his employer's bank account, causing the eatery to close down.

South Korean Lee Sung Eun, 26, who has made no restitution, pleaded guilty to criminal breach of trust yesterday and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years' jail.

The owner of Yokowa Japanese Restaurant, Mr Yoon Seongil, 45, had employed Lee in March 2016 to take charge of the eatery, the court heard.

Mr Yoon, who frequently travelled for business, also handed a debit card to him and a cheque book linked to a bank account which was opened when the restaurant was set up.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Foong Leong Parn said that Lee, as the manager, was entrusted with the monies in the firm's bank account.

But he later used the debit card and cheque book for his own personal use. The court heard that Lee made numerous cash withdrawals and debit card transactions from July 2016 to May 2017.

DPP Foong told District Judge Edgar Foo that Mr Yoon became suspicious in May 2017 as the eatery was not making any profit.

He later confronted Lee with the firm's bank statements and the younger man came clean about what he had done.

The prosecutor added that Lee had used the embezzled funds to gamble, go clubbing and pay for hotel stays and luxury goods.

 

"As a result of the actions of the accused, (Mr Yoon) had to cease operations of the restaurant," DPP Foong told the court.

Yesterday, defence lawyer Diana Ngiam pleaded for her client to be sentenced to two years in jail, stressing that he was only about 23 years old when he misappropriated the monies.

Ms Ngiam also said that Lee was sorry for what he had done.

For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

Shaffiq Alkhatib

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Restaurant manager jailed for misappropriating $200k'. Print Edition | Subscribe