SINGAPORE: When a site manager at a COVID-19 Quick Test Center realized that an employee’s miscalculation had led to an overstock of Antigen Rapid Test (ART) kits, she wanted to cover it up to avoid problems.
She and her colleague embezzled 103 boxes of ART kits worth S$14,162.50 and later sold some of them on Carousell for a profit.
Deng Xiangying, 28, was sentenced to three weeks in jail on Friday (November 25) and ordered to pay S$2,505.25 in damages.
She pleaded guilty to both embezzlement and converting the kits into cash.
The court learned that Deng was a site manager at the Tekka Quick Test Center. Her co-defendant, Audrey Sau Qi Ng, worked as a swab.
The center provided supervised ARTs to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around September 19, 2021, Deng realized that an employee at the center had miscalculated, leading the center to order the number of ART kits needed from the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
She was concerned that she and her colleague would get into trouble with HPB and her employer for ordering too many kits.
To cover up the mistake, Deng and Sau decided to take home the extra boxes of ART kits from the QTC.
Closed circuit television (CCTV) footage showed Deng and Sau meeting Deng’s sister outside the Tekka Quick Test Center on September 19, 2021.
Deng’s sister was there to pick up mooncakes for delivery. Sau was seen on CCTV footage carrying two boxes of ART kits out of the test center, while another colleague carried out a third box.
In all, the pair have unfairly embezzled 103 boxes of ART kits.
After this, the pair formed an intention to sell the ART kits on Carousell for a profit. They used Deng’s Carousell account “superbaddict” to sell the kits.
They sold a box of 25 ART kits for S$100 to S$140 from September 29, 2021 to October 1, 2021, and provided delivery services for the sale.
The police received a report on October 1, 2021 that Deng and Sau had sold ART kits from the rapid test center for profit. Court documents do not indicate who made the report.
In total, Deng and Sau sold 44 boxes of ART kits to 19 customers, earning S$5,363.70. The remaining 59 boxes were recovered during an investigation.
Deputy Prosecutor Jaime Pang said the nature of the crimes required a degree of deterrence.
The ART kits were taken at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting off the public’s access to these resources, he said.
“While we do not dispute that their intent to sell and make a profit only arose after they embezzled (the kits), the damage to society is not mitigated by the fact that these kits have been withdrawn from circulation,” said Mr Pang.
Defense attorney Wasiur Rehman said his client did this to help the employee who made a mistake.
The damages sought by the prosecution covered the cost of the ART kits that were not recovered, with the cost split between Deng and Sau.
Sau’s case is pending.