Singapore Bank Teller Sentenced to Prison for Misappropriating Cash to Gamble

  • The former bank teller was sentenced to 26 months in prison for his offenses
  • Wong withdrew money from the accounts of his father and a friend to try to cover his tracks
  • He eventually got caught after revealing his actions to a colleague
  • A psychiatrist linked Wong’s actions to his gambling addiction
Sneaky man putting money in his pocket
A bank teller in Singapore has been sentenced to prison for stealing cash in order to fund his gambling addiction. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Criminal breach of trust

A former bank teller in Singapore is going to prison after misappropriating cash in order to fund his gambling addiction. While a teller at OCBC Bank, Zechariah Wong An Yi would take money from a cash bag that he was given at the start of a shift that was supposed to go into the teller drawer.

He was sentenced on Monday to 26 weeks in prison as a result of his criminal breach of trust, as well as the misappropriation of nearly S$10,000 (US$7,278). Prosecutors also included four forgery charges.

forged the signatures of his father and a friend

If an inspection of his cash bag was scheduled, Wong would replace the money he had taken. The 26-year-old forged the signatures of his father and a friend, making cash withdrawals from both of their accounts in an effort to replace the missing funds. The defendant accessed the bank’s signature verification system 15 times to view the respective signatures. He withdrew from his father’s account a total of S$7,300 (US$5,313) and S$2,189 (US$1,593) out of the friend’s account. They do not expect Wong to repay them.

Eventually found out

The basis for the investigation into the teller’s actions came after Wong informed one of his colleagues that he took money out of his cash bag and was looking to borrow S$3,800 (US$2,765) from her in order to replace the money. The colleague did not give him any money and brought up the matter with the branch supervisor.

A criminal breach of trust charge can carry a fine and a prison sentence of as much as 30 years.

Subsequent investigations showed that there were a number of times in October and November 2019 that Wong took money from his cash bag. It usually was a few hundred dollars at a time, with a total misappropriation during the period of S$9,989 (US$7,270).

Struggles with a gambling addiction

Wong would gamble with the funds that he took from the cash bag, often betting on soccer games. His lawyer asked the court to have a suitability report made as a psychiatrist has discovered a link between Wong’s offenses and his gambling addiction. The lawyer also noted that Wong was facing harassment from loan sharks.

undermined public trust in financial institutions

However, District Judge Ronald Gwee agreed with the prosecution that Wong’s general deterrence outweighs rehabilitation. Judge Gwee noted the serious nature of Wong’s offenses, which undermined public trust in financial institutions. The judge also requested that the prison service receives a copy of the psychiatric report and provide gambling-related treatment to Wong if necessary.