S'pore PR who illegally redeemed face masks to give to needy seniors gets $7k fine

Wong Shiying
The Straits Times
Feb 25, 2022

A Singapore permanent resident exploited her position as a manager at an investment company to obtain the identity card numbers of clients so that she could use them to redeem face masks.

She said she did so hoping to give the masks to seniors who needed them. 

Pantila Pakamethanan, a 44-year-old Thai national, was on Friday (Feb 25) fined $7,000 after she pleaded guilty to one count each of cheating and illegally obtaining personal information.

Another two charges of a similar nature were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Under Temasek Foundation's mask distribution initiative, which started in February last year, each resident in Singapore was entitled to one MaskPlus Livinguard reusable face mask worth $10.

The masks were dispensed by keying in one's NRIC or foreign identification number at vending machines across the island.

The court heard that Pantila was working as a finance and relationship manager at Chartered Investment Managers at the time of her offences.

She had access to the personal data of her clients to open and close bank accounts for them, among other responsibilities.

She was not authorised to use the personal data of clients for her own purposes.

In October 2020, Pantila used the NRIC numbers to obtain five masks worth $50 from a vending machine in Ang Mo Kio.

Court documents show that all five clients are Japanese nationals who obtained PR status here.

Said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair: "The accused thought that the (clients) would not collect the masks that they were entitled to."

He added that Pantila said she intended to take the masks to a third party who would send them to seniors who needed them. 

Her offences came to light on March 5 last year after a police report was made by a client's family member.

The masks were recovered, as they had not been given out yet.

DPP Sunil told the court that jail terms instead of fines had been imposed for similar cases involving illegal mask redemption.

"If weight is accorded to the accused's apparent motivation to do social good, high fines for both charges may be an appropriate alternative to custodial terms as an exception," he said.

He added, however, that low fines should not be imposed. He said: "There are numerous other ways for the accused to do social good without the abuse of trust and disregard for the law that she showed."

For each offence of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to three years, fined, or both.

The offence of illegally obtaining personal information carries a maximum penalty of a three-year jail term and a $10,000 fine.

The Straits Times

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