Former principal jailed 9 more months for CBT

Former principal jailed 9 more months for CBT
Anthony Tan Kim Hock.

Former Maris Stella High principal Anthony Tan Kim Hock will have to serve nine more months behind bars following yesterday's sentencing on nine criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, involving about $67,000.

The 67-year-old's latest sentence will begin in about a week, after he completes his current five-month jail sentence for embezzling about $68,000 from the school's chapel building fund in 2009.

Tan, who appeared gaunt in his purple prison garb, looked emotionless when his sentence was passed.

The veteran educator was tried and convicted of a single CBT charge last year, and given five months' jail.

He lost his appeal in February.

Twenty charges of misappropriating $80,861 were stood down during his trial.

He pleaded guilty to nine of these on Monday.

The court heard that he used school funds to pay for overseas trips for his friend Peter Lim, a 37-year-old freelance tennis coach.

He also used them to pay for Mr Lim's other expenses such as fees for his tennis coaching accreditation programme, professional tennis registry renewal and an advanced open water diving course in Malaysia's Pulau Tioman.

Little is known of the relationship between Tan and Mr Lim, who met in church in 2003, although they had reportedly been seen in the school.

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong said the $80,861 he took could have been used to pay for school programmes that benefited the school and its students.

"Instead, the money was pocketed by the accused and also used to pay for air tickets and other benefits for his friend Peter Lim,'' he said.

The judge added that there was also no reason or justification for Tan to use school funds to pay for Mr Lim's travel expenses.

Tan, he said, had abused his authority by ignoring procedural measures laid out by the school management committee to safeguard its funds.

Instead, he had appointed himself and his subordinate as the authorised signatories to the bank accounts holding the funds.

Three of the charges relate to Tan receiving and pocketing large donations that parents had made to the school from which he retired in 2009, after 25 years as principal.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Yong had earlier urged the court to impose a stiff six- to nine-month sentence, to protect public interest and deter individuals from abusing their authority by misappropriating funds belonging to public institutions.

Judge Toh, who took into consideration 11 other charges of CBT totalling $13,910, noted the offences were committed over five years, and on multiple occasions.

He said: "The court must balance the contributions of the accused against the repeated harm he has inflicted, to let the punishment fit the crime."

Tan, a member of the Marist Brothers religious order, won a National Day award in 2005 for his service.

He has made full restitution.

This article was first published on May 24, 2014. 
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