SINGAPORE - Workers of a repair and maintenance company stopped work in August 2011 over unpaid wages amounting to nearly $234,000, only to find out that a company director had pocketed the money.
Tan Kim Wah, 53, was last Friday sentenced to 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to committing criminal breach of trust.
The court was not told why he had misappropriated the $233,900, but Tan has since paid back the full amount after selling his Housing Board flat in November 2011, and moving into his brother's house.
Tan had been a director and shareholder of Vigour Technologies, which repaired ships and provided engineering services and maintenance for industrial plants. He was in charge of operations and payroll for the firm, which was the resident contractor of Jurong Shipyard.
However, he did not pay 106 workers their full wages for October and November 2010, and March 2011. He lied to them that Vigour did not have enough money, and told the workers to wait.
In August 2011, the workers stopped work, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Kung Yong Jin.
Several of them also took their grievances to the Ministry of Manpower. Its investigation uncovered Tan's crime.
Vigour then paid part of the salaries owed before Tan made full restitution. He also stepped down from Vigour and worked as an electrical and instrument fitter before he was remanded last December.
Said District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim: "Although there has been full restitution, the amount misappropriated is large and the sentence must reflect this."
He could have been jailed for up to seven years, or fined up to $10,000, or both.