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Jail for ex-clinic manager who was entrusted with blank cheques, embezzled S$550,000

SINGAPORE — Entrusted with pre-signed blank cheques as an administrative manager at a surgical clinic, Fauziah Mat Perlam managed to misappropriate about S$550,000 over nearly two years using various methods. These included issuing these cheques to her friends and getting them to return the money.

Fauziah Mat Perlam used various methods to take money from her company, such as issuing pre-signed blank cheques to her friends and asking them to transfer the money back to her.
Fauziah Mat Perlam used various methods to take money from her company, such as issuing pre-signed blank cheques to her friends and asking them to transfer the money back to her.
  • Fauziah Mat Perlam worked at the Vascular and Interventional Centre clinic
  • She had access rights to the clinic's client management system
  • She was entrusted with pre-signed blank cheques to make prompt payments to vendors
  • Taking advantage of this, she misappropriated more than S$500,000 in nearly two years

SINGAPORE — Entrusted with pre-signed blank cheques as an administrative manager at a surgical clinic, Fauziah Mat Perlam managed to misappropriate about S$550,000 over nearly two years using various methods. These included issuing these cheques to her friends and getting them to return the money.

She later claimed to have spent the money for personal and family purposes, such as gambling and settling her credit card and unlicensed moneylending debts.

On Thursday (April 21), the 47-year-old Singaporean was jailed for three years and four months.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal breach of trust by an employee, as well as another charge of cheating.

Two other criminal breach of trust charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Fauziah worked at the Vascular and Interventional Centre clinic located in the Novena area from 2015 to December 2020, the court heard. Her employment was terminated after the medical director found out about her crimes.

As an administrative manager, she was responsible for the clinic’s finance, accounts and general office administration matters. This included collecting money from patients, paying vendors and banking in the company’s cash revenue at the end of each month.

She also had access to the clinic’s client management system that stored records of its finances, accounts and patients' particulars.

These access rights allowed her to create and amend invoices, including those previously issued, court documents showed.

Her role at the clinic meant that she was trusted with blank cheques issued in the company’s name and pre-signed by the director, who was the authorised signatory for amounts of S$50,000 or below.

This was to make prompt payment to vendors because the director frequently travelled overseas.

GETTING FRIENDS TO TRANSFER MONEY 

The court heard that Fauziah used several methods to embezzle a total of S$332,000 and US$158,000 (about S$216,000) between December 2018 and October 2020:

  • Issuing the pre-signed blank cheques in her friends' names and getting them to transfer the money to her
  • Pocketing money she received from patients, then voiding or neglecting to register the payments on the clinic’s system so that they would still be reflected as “outstanding”
  • Misleading patients into making payments directly to her

In one example, Fauziah issued a patient an invoice for medical fees of almost S$26,000. The patient had gone to the clinic for a graft treatment in 2020.

Instead of keying the invoice into the clinic’s system, she contacted the patient and told him that he could make payment by transferring the money to a bank account, the court heard.

She lied that this was the company’s account when it was her personal one. When the patient complied, she withdrew the money immediately.

When the clinic’s director asked about the payment status, Fauziah tendered an invoice, which was altered slightly, to the director in support of her claim that the patient had made payment via multiple credit card payments.

Her employer realised that the invoice was fraudulent and that the clinic had not received any fees only after conducting an internal investigation.

Separately, Fauziah also misappropriated eight pre-signed blank cheques from the clinic, issuing them to her friends for a total sum of S$155,000.

She told them that the money was from a friend who was repaying a loan. They then transferred the cash back to her, which allowed her to pocket the funds.

She has not made any restitution to the clinic, the court heard.

On Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Melina Chew sought three-and-a-half years’ jail, arguing that Fauziah’s actions were premeditated and planned, and that she “specifically took advantage of the extremely high degree of trust reposed in her”.

For criminal breach of trust by an employee, Fauziah could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

For cheating, she could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

Related topics

court crime embezzle misappropriate criminal breach of trust clinic

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