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Sim Meng Keat (left) at the State Courts on Aug 3, 2021. — TODAY pic
Sim Meng Keat (left) at the State Courts on Aug 3, 2021. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 3 — A purchasing executive at an engineering firm exploited a loophole and got hold of about S$291,000 worth of new electrical cables, telling his subordinate to sell them as scrap metal in exchange for “fast cash”.

Sim Meng Keat kept the bulk of the profits for himself, spending it on his home renovation and wedding, among other expenses.

Today, the 35-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to two years’ jail after pleading guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust as a servant. Another charge was taken into consideration for sentencing.

He worked at United Engineering — located along Ubi Avenue 3 — at the time of his offences between April 2017 and March 2018. He has since made restitution of about S$80,000 to the company.

His co-accused, Indian national Ramu Servai, who was employed as a driver and directly reported to Sim, was jailed for a year in August 2019.

What happened

The court heard that Sim’s job scope included negotiating prices, as well as issuing purchase orders and delivery notes to suppliers for electrical cables.

Around April 2017, he hatched a plan to prepare and submit these notes for cables to the firm’s two main suppliers, collect the cables and sell them for cash. He prepared the notes even though no construction site had requested any cables.

The loophole that Sim took advantage of was that he did not need any approval to submit the notes to the suppliers.

United Engineering was also not required to make upfront payment when a purchase order was submitted. The supplier would bill the firm periodically after two to three months, based on the number of cables used within that period.

Sim enlisted Ramu’s help to collect the cables from the suppliers’ premises, then told him to immediately sell them as scrap metal without returning to United Engineering’s premises.

Ramu would then tell Sim how much he received from the scrap metal company. Sim normally allowed him to retain “tips” of between S$100 and S$200 each time.

He also provided Ramu with other benefits in return for his help, such as paying for a contract for an Apple iPhone. Ramu paid only S$400 to Sim for the mobile phone itself.

The pair misappropriated more than 3,000 rolls of the cables.

On Aug 29, 2018, the firm’s accountant received a call from one of the suppliers, who said that the company had an outstanding payment of about S$150,000 for cables it had collected.

The firm began internal investigations and checked its delivery note records. After establishing that Sim had signed them, and after verifying with construction site supervisors that none of them had requested for cables, the firm’s director lodged a police report.

None of the cables were recovered.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Thaker sought the sentence imposed, arguing that Sim had masterminded the offences and acted consciously and deliberately to conceal his offences for as long as possible.

He was not in dire financial straits as well, the prosecutor noted.

In mitigation, Sim’s lawyer T M Sinnadurai said that it was his first brush with the law for offences of that nature and that he had apologised to United Engineering in 2018.

District Judge Jasbendar Kaur allowed him to start serving his sentence on Aug 17, after he asked for time with his family including a young child.

He could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined. — TODAY

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