Woman jailed for taking $330k

SINGAPORE - A woman was jailed for more than two years yesterday after misappropriating almost $330,000 from a corporate gifts business she set up with a partner.

Over six months in 2012, Ong Mei Yan, 27, told National University of Singapore business professor Richard David Arvey, 69, that the money was needed to fill orders their firm had purportedly received.

However she used the entire sum for personal expenses.

She was found out after he asked her to give him his share of the profits, along with the initial capital.

Mr Arvey made a police report after she made excuses to stall for time.

Ong was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to committing criminal breach of trust between March 7 and Aug 31 that year.

The court heard that Mr Arvey had been an acquaintance of several years when they set up the business.

The firm, named Colere, sold items such as badges and purses and used Mr Arvey's home as its mailing address.

Ong's role was to manage day-to-day affairs, including taking orders, while Mr Arvey came up with money for investment. She took $329,175 of Colere's money in all.

At her request, this had been transferred into her personal account, instead of the firm's.

Calling for a jail term of 3½ years, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi pointed out the large sum involved.

He added that Ong had been sentenced to six months in jail in 2011 for an offence also involving dishonesty - and the same victim, Mr Arvey.

Ong's lawyer, Mr Sunil Sudheesan, said she should be jailed for about two years, adding that she had depression and a gambling disorder, and was remorseful.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said there was a link between Ong's condition and her offence, though this was not significant enough to warrant a substantial discount on her punishment. Ong could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.

This article was first published on November 25, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.