Woman jailed for stealing $1m from employer to fund gambling habit

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A payroll manager who swiped $1.03 million from her former employer and used the money to gamble was sentenced to seven years and three months in jail on Monday (Aug 7).

Pu Choon Choon, 50, pleaded guilty on July 28 to one count of misappropriating $1 million while working as a payroll manager for DYNA-MAC Holdings between September 2015 and August 2016. A similar charge involving $28,797 was considered for sentencing.

The company, which is in Jurong, builds offshore platforms and oil and gas plants.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) David Koh said that Pu, whose job included processing monthly salaries of the company's staff, and another payroll executive were the only ones who had access to the company's payroll system.

Pu would alter her salary details by including allowances that would not affect her contribution to the Central Provident Fund or payable tax, such as transport or training reimbursements. She was not entitled to such allowances.

Furthermore, said DPP Koh, this ensured that there would be no changes in her total taxable income, which might otherwise be detected by the tax authority or the company.

The total salary she was rightfully entitled to during the period was $61,470.

Pu also reactivated and changed the profiles of two former employees in the system so that their salaries would be credited to an account of her choosing.

She would generate the consolidated payroll listing of all the company's staff and send it to a bank, then alter the listing before printing it out for approval by the company.

Once the salaries had been paid, Pu would cancel the changes she had made in the system.

But all these changes were recorded in the payroll system's audit trail.

DPP Koh said her misappropriations came to light only after she had resigned from the company in August 2016.

When the new payroll manager could not reconcile the differences in a payroll, a full inspection of the accounts was carried out, which revealed the illegal deeds.

Pu used the money to gamble at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands casinos.

She also used the money to repay a debt from a friend, and to unlicensed moneylenders from whom she had taken loans to fund her gambling habit.

She had convictions for cheating in 2004 and forgery in 2005.

Pleading for leniency, her lawyer T.M. Sinnadurai said Pu, who has two grown-up children, has resolved to break her gambling habit. Since July last year, she has undertaken to exclude herself from entry to the casinos.

Pu could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for criminal breach of trust as a servant.

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