Man who embezzled almost $280,000 of parents' savings jailed 30 months

Wan Ting Koh
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

When Koh Seng Thiam’s father died in 2014, his mother handed the former her bank card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to settle his recently deceased father’s funeral expenses.

Instead, Koh withdrew over $14,000 to gamble and invest in a business. He also misappropriated more than $200,000 in savings from his parents’ joint bank account and spent it on the same things.

At the State Courts on Monday (27 August), the 50-year-old was jailed 30 months after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

Following the death of Koh’s father on 1 September 2014, Koh’s mother handed him her ATM card for the purpose of settling the funeral expenses. The mother also gave him the password to the account, which was registered under her and her daughter’s name.

Instead of carrying out his mother’s wishes, Koh withdrew a total of $14,046.55 to gamble and invest in a business over the next seven months. The sum was more than half of the total amount in the bank account.

Koh returned the ATM card to his mother around May 2015. He also removed his father’s name from his parents’ joint OCBC time deposit account and added his own name as an account holder.

When the time deposit matured on 8 November 2014, Koh withdrew the principal sum of $100,000, which was meant to take care of his mother’s needs, and spent the money on gambling and investing in a business.

On 8 December 2014, another time deposit account matured and the principal sum of $100,000 withdrawn. Koh’s mother also entrusted another $82,658.80 from this account to Koh to purchase a HDB apartment for her. However, Koh again used the money to gamble and invest in a business.

A second principal sum of $80,000 from the same account was withdrawn on 29 December 2014 and handed to Koh to care for his mother’s needs. As before, Koh again squandered the money.

In total, Koh misappropriated $276,705.35 from his mother and has not made any restitution to date. Koh’s misdeeds were discovered by his brother, who filed a complaint.

For criminal breach of trust, Koh could have been jailed up to seven years and received a possible fine.

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For criminal breach of trust, Koh may have been jailed up to seven years, and/or fined