Shorter jail term for charity crime after accused submits new proof

A man who used his company to collect donations without a licence and failed to provide documents required by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) had six weeks shaved off his original jail sentence of 16 weeks yesterday.

Cavin Tan Cher Kuan, 36, presented fresh evidence to the High Court at his appeal against the sentence, showing that he had paid $10,060 to the non-profit organisation for which he was raising funds.

When Tan pleaded guilty to an offence under the Charities Act last year, the facts before the district court stated that no payments were made to the organisation, En Community Services Society (ECSS).

The alleged lack of payment was a factor that weighed against him in sentencing by the district judge, who said that by failing to furnish the required documents, Tan could not prove that he had raised funds for genuine charitable purposes.

Yesterday, Tan's new lawyer from Invictus Law Corp submitted documentary evidence that Tan had indeed made payment to ECSS.

Mr Cory Wong sought a "high fine", arguing that the new evidence made it clear that Tan had not deceived ECSS or donors, and that this reduced his culpability for his offences.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jordon Li did not object to the admission of fresh evidence, but argued that Tan's jail term should be reduced by two weeks.

 

In cutting Tan's jail term, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang said that imprisonment was still justified, but accepted that the alleged non-payment was held against Tan.

As for why the payments had not been raised to the district judge, Mr Wong told Justice Tay that this was the subject of an ongoing complaint which Tan had lodged with the Law Society against his previous lawyer.

Tan owned a company, Joint Creation International (JCI), which hired people to sell vouchers.

He told his staff to say that the proceeds would go to charity, but JCI did not have a fund-raising licence.

The company was later renamed Alliance Career Entrepreneurship (ACE), which entered into an agreement with ECSS to raise funds by selling trinkets such as key chains and luggage tags.

Under the agreement, ACE would donate between $3,000 and $5,000 to ECSS every month. ACE had a fund-raising licence, which had not been renewed, following complaints of its aggressive sales tactics.

The COC ordered the company to provide documents relating to its fund-raising activities, as well as information such as its expenditure.

To date, Tan has not complied. He is the first person to be prosecuted for flouting such an order.

Last year, he pleaded guilty to four charges: one count each of collecting donations without a licence, failing to provide information to the COC, dealing with fake designer apparel and using criminal force on a police officer.

In January, Tan was sentenced to 16 weeks' jail and a $2,000 fine. He appealed against the sentences imposed on two of the charges; namely, four weeks' jail for the fund-raising offence and 12 weeks' jail for the charity offence.

Yesterday, the 12-week term was halved, resulting in a total jail sentence of 10 weeks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2019, with the headline 'Shorter jail term for charity crime after accused submits new proof'. Print Edition | Subscribe