Former director embezzled over S$600,000 from Catholic centre in S’pore

Joshua Lee | March 14, 04:33 pm

Francis Xavier Wan Kwong Yee, the former director of administration of the Catholic Spirituality Centre, was sentenced to four years and four months jail for embezzling money from the centre.

According to the Straits Times (ST), the 66 year-old was convicted on March 13 for 15 offences, including forgery and criminal breach of trust. The court also took into account 29 other charges when deciding on the sentence.

How Wan stole the money

Wan, a full time volunteer, served as the administration director of the Catholic Spirituality Centre from 2004 t0 2014.

Wan’s job was to supervise the accounts staff, and prepare checks and arrange payment to vendors, reported ST.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lim, the centre is funded by tithes (regular offerings by church members) and donations.

Between July 2010 and Sep. 2014, Wan forged three cheques worth S$370,000.

He made deliberate spelling mistakes on the cheques while preparing them.

After correcting the mistakes, Wan asked the authorised signatories to countersign against them. Then, he cancelled out the names on the cheques and replace them with his own name.

The cheques were then banked into his own personal account.

In another instance according to Today, Wan photocopied an invoice and submitted it twice to claim a reimbursement amount twice. While he was originally supposed to claim only S$9,416, he managed to get S$18,832.

Between 2009 and 2013, Wan photocopied genuine invoices, removed certain details, and printed them out as blank invoices.

He then filled in fake details to create fake invoices and forged the vendor’s signature.

He used such a method to forge 10 invoices worth more than S$86,000.

Caught trying to bank in a S$100,000 cheque

ST reported that Wan’s crimes were discovered when DBS called one of the authorised signatories, Reverend Father Jude David, to confirm if the centre had issued a S$100,000 cheque initially made payable to the Titular Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore but amended to Wan’s name.

Wan confessed to his crimes when Father Jude confronted him.

Wan’s crimes bagged him a total of S$600,246 from the centre. After he was discovered, he voluntarily returned S$300,000 before the centre alerted the police. The remaining S$300,246 will be covered by monies recovered from Wan’s bank account.

Stole out of pure greed

According to DPP Lim, Wan took the money because of pure greed:

“Xavier Wan admitted to the police that he was neither in debt nor had any specific purpose for the proceeds of crime, but committed the offences out of greed and temptation.”

Following the discovery of Wan’s crimes, the centre told ST that it immediately put in place safeguards such as engaging forensic auditors to investigate the full extent of Wan’s misappropriation and appointing external parties to review existing finance procedures.

Wan was also suspended from his duties on Dec. 26, 2014.

According to ST, the church elders of the centre also engaged Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim to represent Wan pro bono, and added that it sees this incident as an opportunity for grace.

A spokesperson for the centre told ST:

“While CSC expects justice to be done, we believe justice should always be tempered by compassion. This is central to the Christian attitude towards sinners and offenders.”

Related story:

Former Clementi mosque chairman misappropriated over S$370,000 in donations over 7 years

Top photo by niu niu on Unsplash.

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