SINGAPORE: A former restaurant manager who exploited vulnerabilities in the accounting system and cheated the restaurant’s owners of S$922,314.74 is going to jail for roughly the same amount of time that he carried out his fraudulent activities. A judge has given 51-year-old Chan Chee Hung 81 months of jail time, which means he is set to spend six years and nine months behind bars for his illegal activities from January 2006 to February 2013.

Chan, who had been a senior manager at Soup Restaurant, had three fake firms set up that pretended to be suppliers of the goods needed by the restaurant. He entered a guilty plea on Friday (Oct 20) to six counts of cheating and one count of theft, with 15 other similar offences considered in his sentencing.

Soup Restaurant, which started in 1991, began by specializing in herbal soups and later began serving “Chinatown Heritage Cuisine” based on the owner’s family’s recipes. It eventually grew into a popular chain of successful eateries across Singapore, including Teahouse by Soup Restaurant, Coffee O, and Little Teahouse.

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Chan, who had been in charge of sourcing and procuring supplies for the company’s central kitchen, took advantage of a weakness in accounting processes: the inventory of kitchen goods was not audited. As early as March 2004, he had his wife start Uni-Vac, a firm that originally bought kitchen goods from suppliers and then sold them to the chain at higher costs, TODAY reports.

Chan cheated Soup Restaurant when he created fake invoices and then forged the signatures of two people under him to show that goods had been ordered and received. These fake invoices were then submitted to an accounts executive, resulting in funds getting released to Uni-Vac, which he then spent on personal expenses.

Chan later took his fraudulent activities further by opening two more companies using the names of two other family members so that his name would not be connected to his scheme. He cheated Soup Restaurant of S$922,314.74 over seven years and one month.

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A police report was filed over Chan’s activities in June 2013. He has since paid back the company only S$10,000 after his scheme was discovered.

In addition to the fake invoice scheme, the former manager also stole cash cards from several car parks across Singapore, taking them from unlocked vehicles, with a total value of at least S$609.36. In 2020, Chan was also involved in receiving funds involved in scam operations, receiving a commission every time he did so.

He could have been jailed for as long as 10 years and been made to pay a fine for every cheating charge. The former manager could have been jailed for three years or fined for theft. /TISG

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