Public servant who stole over $300K jailed 64 months

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picture credit: SPF

A 33-year-old social service worker was sentenced to 64 months’ jail on Thursday ( 22 Dec) for stealing more than S$340,000 in public funds from the Community Care Endowment Fund (ComCare) over three years, from Nov 2011 to Aug 2014.

The social service worker, Chia Kwang Hwee’s job involved disbursing money to low-income families in need of financial assistance. At the time he was caught, he was a team leader at a Social Service Office (SSO) at Geylang Serai.

Chia has not made any restitution. He could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined for the offence of criminal breach of trust as a public servant.

What happened?

He had allegedly diverted financial assistance funds to his own bank accounts, and used the money to pay off his debts and lead an extravagant lifestyle. Over three years from 2011 to 2014, he allegedly pocketed $343,480 and splurged part of his ill-gotten gains on fine dining, airline tickets, and high-end boutiques.

Chia’s first offence allegedly happened when he encashed cheques worth $2,400 issued by the South East Community Development Council in 2011. In 2012, he allegedly misappropriated cheques worth almost $60,000, and in 2013, he misappropriated cheques worth nearly $140,000. He also faces 65 charges of using the Social Assistance Network System accounts of his colleagues to misappropriate more than $140,000 in 2013 and 2014.

What was the aftermath of his actions?

The ministry made a police report against Chia for alleged fraud after confirming that one of the bank accounts was Chia’s payroll account. He has been charged with misappropriation of funds, and faces a total of 126 charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

The prosecution has asked for him to be jailed for six years, while Chia’s lawyer asked for not more than 21/2 years’ jail. District Judge Lee Poh Choo will deliver sentence on Dec 22.