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6 years' jail for ex-accounting manager who embezzled S$1.7m from shipping firm over 7.5 years

SINGAPORE — A man who pocketed more than S$1.7 million over about 7.5 years when he was an accounting manager at a shipping company was jailed for six years on Tuesday (May 17).

SINGAPORE — A man who pocketed more than S$1.7 million over about 7.5 years when he was an accounting manager at a shipping company was jailed for six years on Tuesday (May 17).

Chow Pak Thong, 68, pleaded guilty earlier to four counts each of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. Eight similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing on Tuesday.

One other charge of criminal intimidation was also taken into consideration over an incident where Chow pointed a fruit knife at the company’s director, Mr Wong Ah Khim, when he was confronted over his dishonesty on July 3, 2019 in the company's Tanjong Pagar office. 

The court heard that Chow had been employed by BSA Transportation since June 4, 1992 as an accounting manager.

He was responsible for preparing the company’s general and sub-ledgers, payroll as well as the profit-and-loss forecast. 

As part of his duties, he was one of three employees who were the authorised signatories for the company’s corporate account with United Overseas Bank (UOB). The other two employees were the company’s directors, Mr Wong and Mr Mark Kwan Kai Hoe.

Chow was authorised to issue cash cheques to ship captains as money advances. These cash cheques would draw on the balances in the corporate account.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Matthew Choo said that sometime in January 2012, Chow devised a scheme to siphon money from the corporate account.

Chow would ask for cheques that had been pre-signed by one of the directors.

He then prepared payment vouchers of the company that reflected the corresponding cheque number and an amount to be encashed. He also wrote untrue reasons in the payment voucher as the purpose for the payment, such as stating that the money was used as partial settlements for repair or docking invoices.

Chow accounted for the sums encashed in the company’s ledgers by using the fictitious payment vouchers that were created as supporting documents.

He encashed the cheques at a UOB branch before keeping the money for his own expenses.

On July 3, 2019, the two directors confronted Chow after Mr Kwan noticed discrepancies between the company’s statement of accounts and bank statements.

As the confrontation became heated, Chow wielded a fruit knife at Mr Wong. 

Chow was fired that same day and Mr Kwan made a police report the next day.

In the 7.5 years that Chow carried out his scheme, he misappropriated a total of S$1,742,800.

He has not made any restitution for the money that he embezzled.

For each charge of criminal breach of trust as a servant, Chow could have been jailed for up to 15 years and could have been liable for a fine.

For each charge of falsifying accounts, he could have been jailed up to 10 years or fined, or both.

Related topics

court crime shipping accounting criminal breach of trust embezzle

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