Former school principal Anthony Tan Kim Hock, who was convicted last year of misappropriating school funds, was back in court yesterday to admit to nine charges of pocketing $66,951.
Multiple charges of criminal breach of trust totalling $80,861 had previously been stood down when the 67-year-old ex-Maris Stella High principal was tried for misappropriating $67,679 of the school's chapel building fund. He was found guilty in June last year and sentenced to five months' jail.
In February, the High Court dismissed Tan's appeal against his conviction and sentence as well as the prosecution's appeal for the sentence to be doubled.
Tan, who is due to be released on June 1, retired in 2009 after 25 years of service as principal of the school in Mount Vernon Road.
He admitted yesterday to six counts of misappropriating $42,151 between 2004 and 2009 from the bank account of the school's management committee to pay for overseas trips for a church friend, Mr Peter Lim.
He also embezzled two $10,000 cash cheque donations made by parents whose sons had secured places in the school and a badminton coach's $4,800 donation to the school in return for the use of its premises. Tan has made full restitution.
In arguing for a stiff six- to nine-month sentence to be meted out, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Yong said Tan had, on multiple occasions, dishonestly misappropriated money intended for the school or belonging to it for his own purposes and Mr Lim's.
On no fewer than 39 occasions, he used school funds to pay for the travel expenses of the 37-year-old freelance tennis coach, who accompanied him on work trips abroad.
"Peter Lim is not a staff member of the school and has no business going on the trips on the school's expense,'' said Mr Yong.
He said Tan appointed himself and the vice principal as authorised signatories to most of the the school management committee's bank accounts, contrary to its standing order that a management committee member be a co-signatory to the bank accounts.
Tan, he said, had clearly abused his authority and trust by misusing public funds for his personal benefit.
"Public confidence in school leaders and administrators must be assiduously safeguarded. Otherwise, parents and well-wishes may be reluctant to donate to schools. Students cannot be left with the message that the accused's conduct is trivial,'' he said.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong will sentence Tan on Friday.
This article was published on May 20 in The Straits Times.
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