SINGAPORE, Dec 7 — Facing financial difficulties, a Prudential insurance agent decided to misappropriate more than S$117,000 (RM546,799) of his client’s money that was meant for insurance premiums to help pay for his home renovation, groceries, car instalment repayments and his daily expenses.

Gng Hoon Hong, 48, was sentenced today to 20 months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to three charges for committing criminal breach of trust.

Three other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yeo Zhen Xiong told the court that sometime in 2000, Tung Lei Lei and her husband began buying insurance from Prudential Assurance Company through Gng.

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Gng was introduced to the couple through Tung’s former colleagues.

A total of five insurance policies, which consisted of a mix of savings, medical and life insurance, were bought through Gng and the premiums totaled about S$15,000 annually.

Tung came to trust Gng over the years and he also assisted in handling insurance matters when her husband passed away in 2009.

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Whenever the insurance premium payments were due, Gng would inform Tung who would then transfer the funds to him to make payment to Prudential.

However, starting from 2012, Gng did not transfer all the sums received and had instead misappropriated some of it for his own use, said DPP Yeo.

On August 16, 2018, Gng approached Tung to borrow S$10,000 which he purportedly claimed was for an animal shelter.

Suspecting that Gng might be facing financial difficulties, Tung decided to make an enquiry with Prudential and discovered that three of her insurance policies had lapsed owing to no payment made.

She confronted Gng a few days later and he showed her a printout from Prudential’s website which indicated that one of the insurance policies was purportedly in force.

This printout was, in fact, forged by Gng and amended to reflect that the policy was in force.

The court heard that at the time of the confrontation, Gng did not tell Tung the truth about the lapsed policies and claimed that he was attempting to come up with money to repay her.

Tung had also already obtained online access with Prudential for her insurance policies and discovered that her policies had indeed lapsed.

She then reported the matter to Prudential who lodged a police report.

Gng was arrested on February 21, 2021.

Investigations revealed that, in total, Gng had misappropriated S$117,160.94 over 32 occasions that spanned approximately 6.5 years.

After the discovery of Gng’s actions, he made a repayment of S$15,252 to Tung. No further repayment has been made since.

Gng later claimed that he had misappropriated the money due to financial difficulties and used the money to pay for his renovation, groceries, car instalment repayments and his daily expenses.

TODAY has reached out to Prudential on whether Gng is still employed by the company.

‘Actions had severe consequences’

In seeking a jail term of 20 to 24 months, DPP Yeo argued that the misappropriated sum was substantial and Gng’s offending was a sustained one that took place over a long period where he had more than adequate opportunity to own up to his action.

“It cannot be said that the accused had committed the offences in a moment of folly as his actions had taken place as a result of trust in his capacity as an insurance agent,” said DPP Yeo.

He added that Gng’s actions had severe consequences too, as it resulted in the affected insurance policies lapsing, leaving the victim without coverage.

For each charge of committing criminal breach of trust, Gng could have been jailed for up to seven years or fined, or both. — TODAY