SINGAPORE - By the time Singapore Floorball Association (SFA) president Sani Mohamed Salim owned up to pocketing money meant for the sport, the association was left in such a mess, it had outstanding debts totalling about $139,000 as of June 2016 and a bank balance which showed it owed $32.87.
It could not pay suppliers or rent game venues for the annual Singapore Floorball League.
The association also could not maintain its membership with the International Floorball Federation and without it, the Singapore men's floorball team was rendered ineligible to take part in the 2016 World Floorball Championships.
On Friday (Nov 2) Sani, 51, was jailed for two years and six months after pleading guilty last month to three counts of forgery and two criminal breach of trust charges involving $114,860 in total. Nine similar charges involving another $31,200 were considered during sentencing.
Sani was the association's president from 2005 but resigned 11 years later after coming clean following a Sport Singapore review of the association's accounts. The police were then alerted on May 14, 2016.
He was then employed as a senior centre manager with the ActiveSG Group at Sport Singapore, a statutory board under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
His job was to manage the facilities and sports complex at the Hougang Sports Centre.
The court heard that Sani had pocketed fees paid by teams taking part in the floorball league. Court documents did not state the amount each team paid.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelvin Kow said treasurer Ahmad Najib Muslim and a committee member of the association, Mr Kenneth Ho, were tasked with collecting the payments before handing them over to Sani.
Instead of depositing or transferring the fees to the association's bank account, Sani misappropriated the monies.
Court documents stated it was to settle his personal loans and expenses.
Sani also forged Mr Ahmad Najib's signature on cheques to make withdrawals from the association's bank account and used the cash to gamble as well as pay off unlicensed moneylenders.
Suspicion grew when a supervisor at Sport Singapore discovered that many creditors had been turning up at the office to look for Sani.
Sani then confessed to Sport Singapore that he had been pocketing the monies.
DPP Kow told District Judge Jasvender Kaur that Sani's offences had harmed the association's reputation internationally and locally.
"Observing the financial and reputational crisis that the SFA was in, Sport Singapore provided the SFA with financial assistance in the form of an advance grant of $76,000 - to support its operations and the floorball national teams."
Defence lawyer M. Lukshumayeh told the court that his client committed the offences due to financial difficulties arising from looking after both his immediate and extended family. This led him to borrow money from both licensed and unlicensed moneylenders.
Sani has made no restitution.
For each count of criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. And for each forgery charge, he could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.