Singapore

Duo jailed for misappropriating $5.1 million to feed 'extravagant lifestyle'

Driven by greed, two employees of one of Singapore's oldest cooperatives treated its funds as their personal expense account, defrauding it of more than $5.1 million of members' savings.

In five years, the duo abused their positions of trust by reaching into its coffers to feed an "extravagant lifestyle", said the prosecution.

Yesterday, assistant manager Arni Ahmad, 42, who misappropriated funds and cheated the Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' Co-operative Thrift and Loan Society of $4.3 million, was sentenced to 12 years' jail. She pleaded guilty to 20 charges, with 447 other charges taken into consideration.

Administrative executive Hanati Jani, 50, was jailed for nine years and eight months after admitting to 20 of 275 charges. The total amount involved in her case was $1.95 million.

The overall amount was around $5.1 million because of overlapping in their offences.

The co-op's members are employees of statutory boards and the government service.

The co-op takes deposits and gives loans to members, who make monthly contributions of at least $10 to specific accounts.

Arni was promoted to assistant manager in January 2008, two years after she joined the co-op. Her duties included processing loans, deposits, withdrawals and keeping records of the movements of accounts.

Hanati joined in 2008 and covered Arni's duties in her absence.

Between 2008 and 2013, they deceived the co-op into disbursing money to them by creating phantom members. They were friends and relatives, who would be instructed by Arni and/or Hanati to transfer or hand the money to them.

They spent the money on, among other things, overseas trips and gym memberships with personal trainers.

In sentencing, District Judge Lim Tse Haw noted the staggering losses, high level of premeditation and the sheer number of charges. The women did not make any restitution.

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