Debt collector fined $5,000 for harassing eatery worker

Tan Kian Tiong, 49, was fined $5,000 after he was found guilty of harassing an employee of a Korean restaurant at Goldhill Centre on April 1, 2014.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

He behaved more like a thug than the director of a legitimate debt collection business.

Tan Kian Tiong (above), 49, was yesterday fined $5,000 for harassing a Korean restaurant worker at Goldhill Centre in Thomson Road last year.

Together with three other accomplices, Tan had used threatening words on Ms Seol Dong Sook, 47, when the group entered Your Woul Korean Restaurant on April 1.

Tan's accomplices still have their cases pending before the courts.

The four of them allegedly went to the restaurant around 9.20pm to collect payment for a debt supposedly owed by the owner.

Tan and his accomplices are said to have created a commotion by shouting at Ms Seol and other staff, demanding repayment of the debt.

They also allegedly blocked the restaurant's entrance and prevented patrons from entering or exiting the eatery.

One of Tan's accomplices even allegedly slapped the hand of a worker who had attempted to film a video of the unruly group using his mobile phone.

The phone fell to the ground, damaging its screen.

'THUGGISH TACTICS'

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Caleb Tan urged the court to hand Tan, who was then the director of debt collection company Double Ace Associates, the maximum fine of $5,000.

DPP Tan said: "By operating in groups and using thuggish tactics that bear a striking resemblance to those which are used by unlicensed moneylenders to scare debtors into paying their debts, the accused (Tan) and his colleagues engender public disquiet and create an atmosphere of lawlessness..."

Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun asked the prosecutor if Tan had prior convictions.

It was revealed in court that Tan had been convicted of a range of offences between 1993 and 2010. These included criminal trespass, cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Defence lawyer S.K. Kumar argued that his client's antecedents are "dated some time ago".

DPP Tan rebutted by saying that "debt collection should not take such a form".

The judge then sentenced Tan to the maximum fine.


This article was first published on December 29, 2015.
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