The nerve to steal $12m worth of steel

He cleaned out close to S$12 million worth of his company's products over three years, selling its high-end steel products to scrap metal companies.

Yesterday, Low Kok Leong (above), 50, was jailed 12 1/2 years for two counts of criminal breach of trust.

He committed the crimes when he was an employee of Arcelor Mittal Singapore, a multi-national steel and mining company.

He had been a warehouse manager for about 10 years and was in charge of the company's stocks at Yang Kee Logistics's warehouse in Tuas.

Without company permission, he would issue delivery orders and e-mails to the staff of the warehouse, authorising the release of its steel products, which include tubes and plates for the oil and gas industry, for sale to five scrap metal companies.

He pocketed the money he received, worth almost S$12 million in all.

In 2009, between May 25 and Dec 29, he sold about S$170,500 worth of products.

In 2010, between Jan 8 and Aug 25, he sold about S$11.5 million worth of goods.

Another count of criminal breach of trust over almost S$55,700 worth of products in 2008, between March 7 and Oct8, was also taken into consideration yesterday.

The yearly numbers show how Low became more and more daring with his misdeeds.

In total, he made 67 unauthorised sales over the three years.

Low was found out when an operations manager at the company conducted a stock check on Aug 26, 2010 and found the stock level unusually low, with much unaccounted stock.

Heavy losses

Deputy Public Prosecutors Leong Wing Tuck and Christine Liu argued for a deterrent sentence yesterday, calling the company's losses "colossal".

"(Low) created false delivery orders and authorised e-mail instructions to his staff...(he) clearly exploited the work process," said DPP Leong, adding that Low got "progressively bolder" as he kept misappropriating larger sums.

Low's lawyer, Mr A Thamilselvan, said his client committed the offences to feed his gambling habit.

Low started out with 4D and Toto and later, jackpot.

Eventually, he gambled more often and with higher stakes when the casinos opened here.

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