Accountant stole almost $4 million over four years, funded scholars
Filipino remitted money overseas and also started a scholarship programme
Over four years, the accountant misappropriated almost $4 million from a company here, remitting almost 90 per cent of it to the Philippines and United Arab Emirates.
Yesterday, Ariel Biasong Salamanes, 42, who was an accountant for data analytics company QlikTech Singapore, pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal breach of trust, five counts of falsification of accounts and seven charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).
Another 267 similar charges were taken into consideration.
The court was told Salamanes, a Filipino, had access to the company's bank accounts during his employment from April 2012 to July 2017.
As part of his job, he could sign on company cheques for payments up to $10,000.
From April 2013 to June 2017, he issued a total of 451 cheques worth $3.97 million, depositing most of them into his accounts and later remitting them overseas.
The accounts in the Philippines belonged to himself, his family and friends.
He also made dummy cheques with names of random employees for accounting purposes to cover his tracks.
Salamanes was caught after the Commercial Affairs Department received information on him in June 2017.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheng Yuxi told the court that about $3.57 million of the tainted funds were transferred overseas through 835 remittances.
She asked the court to jail him for 11 years, adding that he has not made any restitution.
Salamanes' lawyer Christine Sekhon urged the court to impose a lighter sentence of nine years at most, saying her client suffered from major depressive disorder and had used some of the money for charitable causes.
These included starting a scholarship that fully funded the university fees of at least 20 Filipinos.
She said: "My client felt he performed heroic acts helping people through crisis... and rationalised that the company was profitable.
"He rationalised that other people needed the money more, and derived self-worth from these acts which he now accepts were misguided."
The court was also told that QlikTech has since been able to claim back every cent through fraud insurance.
But DPP Cheng said most of the misappropriated funds were still used for his own benefit.
District Judge Ong Luan Tze called for an adjournment, and Salamanes is expected to be sentenced today.
For each count of criminal breach of trust, he can be jailed for up to 15 years and fined.
For each count of falsification of accounts and each charge he faces under the CDSA, he can be jailed for up to 10 years, or fined, or both.