Mosque employee who embezzled $21,000 in donation monies jailed

(PHOTO: Google Street View)
(PHOTO: Google Street View)

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Muis on the court case.

SINGAPORE — A social development officer at a mosque who was tasked to help low-income families apply for financial assistance instead pocketed $21,000 in donations collected from Friday prayers over seven months.

Nurul Jannah Md Latiff volunteered to count the cash donations collected at Assyakirin Mosque and would siphon about $1,000 to $1,500 each time by concealing the wad of cash in her sleeve. She used the money to pay off loans.

The 28-year-old woman was jailed for eight weeks on Friday (7 August) after she admitted to one count of committing criminal breach of trust.

Nurul has since made full restitution to the mosque.

She was first employed as a social development officer at the mosque, located at Yung An Road, on 22 June 2014. Her primary job was to assist low income families with the administration of documents so that they could obtain financial assistance.

Assyakirin Mosque would collect donations from congregants using donation chests in the mosque’s premises and donation containers during Friday prayer sessions. Between October 2018 and April last year, Nurul began to volunteer outside of her job scope to count cash donations collected from these sessions with other staff members in the administrative office.

While she was doing the job however, she began to slip wads of cash, tied up with rubber bands, into her sleeve. She took between $1,000 and $1,500 each time depending on her needs, before continuing with her task of counting the money. After she completed her task, she would leave the office before transferring the loot into her bag.

She embezzled a total of $21,000 within seven months.

The executive chairman of the mosque, Muhammaf Hafiz Abdul Rashid later discovered the offence and was advised to lodge a police report at the advice of Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Muis).

Nurul later admitted to misappropriating the monies to pay for her home renovation and bank loans.

Response from Muis

In response to a query from Yahoo News Singapore, a Muis spokesperson said that Assyakirin Mosque detected financial irregularities last October and immediately followed up with an internal investigation. The mosque reported the incident to the police on 18 November last year, in consultation with MUIS.

The spokesperson added that Muis “does not tolerate and takes a serious view of any financial impropriety at our mosques”.

“There are policies and procedures in place to ensure good governance in the mosques, and Muis continuously reviews these measures to meet national regulatory standards and benchmarks. These policies and procedures are necessary to uphold the community’s trust of our religious institutions,” he stated.

Muis has conducted refresher training on Mosque Financial Regulations for mosque staff and members of mosques management board over the past few years to “create greater awareness on the importance of good financial management”.

The authority has also put in place regular independent audits on all mosques to ensure compliance with regulations.

For committing criminal breach of trust, she could have been jailed up to seven years, or fined, or both.

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