Criminal breach of trust in Singapore
Section 405 of the Penal Code provides the definition of the offence of criminal breach of trust (“CBT”).
When a person is entrusted with property or has dominion over property, and dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, he may be liable for the offence of CBT. If he dishonestly uses that property in a way in violation of the law or of any legal contract, he may also be liable for the same offence.
For example, person A is employed as a secretary of a company and is entrusted with the company’s funds. If A dishonestly uses the funds to buy a car under his name for his own personal use, he will be liable for the offence of CBT.
Pursuant to section 406 of the Penal Code, the offence of CBT is punishable by imprisonment, fine, or both.
Aggravated forms of criminal breach of trust are provided for in sections 407 to 409 of the Penal Code. These include CBT by carriers, clerks or servants, or by public servants, merchants, bankers, or agents respectively. These aggravated forms of CBT attract higher sanctions.
An example of alleged CBT in Singapore is that of the ongoing case involving City Harvest Church. City Harvest Church founder and pastor Kong Hee and five other associates have been charged for dubious investments made to questionable companies, and also for the alleged embezzlement of a substantial amount of money from the church’s building fund to finance the pop career of Kong’s wife, Sun Ho. The main issue surrounding the trial relates to the manner in which the building fund monies entrusted to the church’s management board was allegedly converted for improper use, in breach of the trustees’ duties. The trial is set to continue in August.
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