Two years' jail for man who misappropriated electrical cables worth nearly $292k

Sim Meng Keat was working for United Engineering as a purchasing executive when he committed the offences. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A 35-year-old man exploited a loophole in his employer's procurement procedures, misappropriating close to $292,000 worth of new electrical cables the engineering company had purchased.

He had them sold as scrap metal and pocketed most of the proceeds.

Sim Meng Keat was sentenced to two years' jail on Tuesday (Aug 3), after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal breach of trust involving cables worth about $227,400.

Another charge of criminal breach of trust involving the remaining cables worth nearly $64,500 was taken into consideration during sentencing by District Judge Jasbendar Kaur.

Sim was working for United Engineering as a purchasing executive when he committed the offences between April 2017 and July 2018.

Among other things, he was involved in buying new electrical cables for the company.

Sim would prepare the purchase orders for the cables, have them approved by its director, and send them to the company's suppliers.

The firm was not required to make upfront payment after a purchase order had been submitted, due to a agreement it had with the suppliers.

Instead, the cables would be kept at the suppliers' premises until the company requested them. The suppliers would bill the company periodically, based on the number of cables the latter had used.

When the company required the cables, Sim would prepare and submit a delivery note for them to the relevant supplier. The note would indicate when the cables were to be collected by the company from the supplier's premises.

Court documents state that Sim was not required to get the approval of the company's director before submitting the delivery notes to the suppliers.

He exploited this by preparing and sending notes to them even though there were no requests for the cables.

Sim also got Ramu Servai, a driver with United Engineering, to collect the cables and sell them as scrap metal immediately. Ramu was a direct report to Sim in the organisation.

Court documents state Ramu, who is co-accused of the crimes, was aware that their acts were unlawful. It was not stated if Ramu has been dealt with, nor how much the cables were sold for in all.

Sim would generally allow Ramu to keep between $100 and $200 from each sale, while he kept the bulk of the proceeds. He also provided Ramu with other benefits, such as partially paying for Ramu's Apple iPhone.

Sim's ill-gotten gains went towards personal expenses, including his house renovation and wedding.

On Aug 29, 2018, one of the suppliers notified the company of an outstanding payment of about $150,000 for electrical cables it had purportedly collected.

The company then conducted internal investigations and discovered Sim's offences. Its director lodged a police report on Sept 3, 2018.

Court documents state that none of the electrical cables misappropriated were recovered. Sim has made partial restitution of about $80,000 to date.

For his offence, he could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

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