A Singapore man was put in charge of managing his late brother’s estate. Instead, he used it to gamble and invest, and will now spend time in jail for the theft.
Tan Siong Choon’s brother, Ten Seng Kiam, died a decade ago in a traffic accident. The Singapore man became the trustee of his brother’s estate after his niece decided that he would be better able to manage the money and assets. She later found out that the decision was an extremely costly one.
In 2020, she took her uncle to court after she realized that he siphoned over S$550,000 (US$395,120). He spent the money gambling and purchasing stocks, but will now pay the price for his actions. The 62-year-old man is heading to jail for four years, according to media outlet Today.
A Grave Mistake
Tan worked out a plea deal, admitting to one count of criminal breach of trust. This kept him from receiving a long sentence but, at 66 when he returns to freedom, picking up the pieces will be just like an additional sentence.
Ten and Tan were quasi-estranged at the time – they hadn’t spoken to each other since 2000. There was no contact between Tan and his family until the accident, when he suddenly returned.
Discussing the death and Ten’s estate, Tan explained to his niece that someone had to be in charge of the assets. He presented two options – they could administer it jointly or he could manage it all himself. His niece took the ill-fated decision to give Tan control.
Everything started out right. Tan opened a new bank account in the estate’s name, from which he drew funds to pay for the funeral and cover other related expenses. However, things changed shortly after.
Only a few months later, he opened a new bank account in his name and began transferring funds into it. Records showed that he withdrew S$150,000 (US$107,835) that he then spent gambling. He also sold his late brother’s car, converting the $23,500 (US$16,894) in proceeds into gambling funds.
The misappropriation of money continued for over two years. Where once was a bank account holding significant monetary assets, there was just S$3,100 (US$2,228) in late 2019.
Uncovering the Theft
Tan’s daughter discovered the theft in 2019 and approached her uncle. He admitted to what he had done and, the following year, she filed a police report against him. He never offered to make restitution and never attempted to repay any of the money.
The local prosecutor’s office accepted the case and charged Tan. He faced up to seven years in prison, per legal statute, but the prosecutor only requested four to five.
Tan’s niece, a 27-year-old housewife when her father died, could have put the funds to good use. The egregious abuse of trust and lack of respect on the part of her uncle, however, wiped out any chance of having an easy retirement later in life.
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