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HR director jailed for embezzling almost $200k

HR director jailed for embezzling almost $200k
PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao file

SINGAPORE — An associate director of human resources who lined her pockets with almost $200,000 of her company's money was put behind bars on June 3.

Tan Lee Nah, 53, was sentenced to 18 months and six weeks' jail after admitting to two counts of cheating and one charge of criminal breach of trust.

Eighteen other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

In March 2017, Tan was employed as a human resources manager at interior design firm D'Perception Singapore.

Two months into the job, she began stealing from the company.

But her employers did not know, and promoted her to associate director of human resources in May 2019.

Tan was in charge of her company's entire payroll and was the only person in the firm with password access to its payroll system.

While employees' basic salaries would be stated on a spreadsheet and signed by the company's senior management, the employees' allowances would only be indicated on their individual payslips.

From May 2017 onwards, Tan made false claims for transport and other allowances every month, allowing her to receive an extra sum of between $1,000 and $6,000 monthly.

One of her charges states that over 11 months, from January to November 2019, she received a total of $125,293 in multiple false allowance claims.

In August 2017, the company gave Tan two cheques of about $1,500 each to pay for the Central Provident Fund contributions of a new employee. But Tan encashed the cheques to her own account instead.

In total, Tan embezzled $195,786 from the company over 2½ years.

Her misdeeds were discovered only in November 2019, when somebody informed the company's managing director that Tan had printed out a copy of her salary statement on the company's shared printer, which revealed that she had received allowances on top of her basic salary.

The managing director noticed that the payslip showed allowances for which Tan had not been entitled to claim.

The company's finance director retrieved her payslips and discovered that she had been embezzling company funds.

Tan was fired from the firm in December 2019, and the finance director filed a police report a month later.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lu Huiyi said that Tan should be jailed for between 18 months and six weeks, and 18 months and eight weeks.

The prosecutor noted that Tan was in a management position and commanded a high degree of trust.

Pointing out that Tan had offended over the course of more than two years, DPP Lu said that there was a need to deter her from future wrongdoing.

Her defence lawyer, John Koh of Populus Law, asked for 15 months and six weeks' jail instead, and said that she was "deeply remorseful" about her actions.

For each charge of cheating, Tan could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

As for committing criminal breach of trust, she could have been given up to 15 years' jail and fined.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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