Addicted to online gambling and owing $260,000, the then financial controller of mainboard-listed Asia Power Corp put his hand in the till.
Tan Liang Kwang, 33, stole company cheques and forged them to withdraw a total of $168,000 from its bank account. He also committed criminal breach of trust of $70,000. He was jailed two years on Wednesday for theft, forgery and misappropriating the firm's funds.
When Tan pleaded guilty on Oct 16, the district court heard that he took up his post at Asia Power - which manages and operates power stations in China - on Dec 1, 2011. In October last year, he was entrusted with two cheques totalling $70,000 for corporate expenses for an overseas visitor. The money was not used and he misappropriated it.
Tan also noticed that Asia Power's senior management was in China and cheques are mailed there for signatories to sign. Last December, he stole eight blank cheques from a cheque book held by the company's secretary. He forged the required signatures on five cheques and withdrew sums ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 to settle his debts with both licensed moneylenders and loan sharks.
Chief executive officer Tian Ai Min reported the matter to the police in January. Tan was sacked that same month.
Stressing the seriousness of the offences, Deputy Public Prosecutor Devathas Satianathan said that Tan had abused his position as a financial controller.
Defence counsel Gregory Vijayendran said Tan had agreed to make restitution of $238,000, of which $84,000 had already been returned.
The court also heard that Dr Lim Yun Chin of Raffles Medical Group said Tan had a pathological gambling disorder.
Just for forging the cheques, Tan, who got married two months ago, could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.