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Indian priest jailed for pawning temple jewellery worth $1.5 mn in Singapore

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By India Today World Desk: An Indian chief priest of Singapore’s Hindu temple was sentenced to six years in jail on Tuesday for misappropriating over 2 million Singapore Dollars ($1.5 million) of bijou repeatedly from a distinguished temple, consistent with media critiques.

Kandasamy Senapathi was appointed as a priest at Sri Mariamman Temple by the Hindu Endowments Board inside the downtown Chinatown district from December 2013 until he resigned on March 30, 2020.

He was found accountable of authorized breach of perception by dishonest misappropriation and two charges of remitting authorized proceedings abroad, with six totally different charges moreover thought-about all through the conviction, consistent with the critiques of Channel News Asia.

Senapathi, an Indian nationwide, was caught all through the Covid-19 pandemic which disturbed the widespread audit timing and revealed the missing jewellery.

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In 2014, keys and combination numbers for the protected inside the temple’s holy sanctum had been handed to Senapathi, which contained 255 gadgets of gold jewellery owned by the temple, with a information value of about SGD 1.1 million.

Senapathi started pawning gadgets of bijou in 2016, taking them to pawn retailers and later redeeming them by using money he obtained from pawning totally different gadgets of temple jewellery.

In 2016, Senapathi pawned 66 gadgets of gold jewellery from the temple on 172 occasions, the report acknowledged.

He continued this observe between 2016 and 2020, redeeming the entire jewellery and returning it to the temple sooner than the audit was scheduled. Once the audit was completed, he would pawn the jewellery as soon as extra to return the borrowed money.

Senapathi acquired SGD 2,328,760 from pawn retailers between 2016 to 2020, of which he remitted about SGD 141,000 to India and deposited the remaining amount into his checking account.

In March 2020, on the highest of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore, the audit was delayed on account of “circuit breaker” measures forbidding non-essential train in Singapore.

Later all through the June 2020 audit, Senapathi misled members of the temple finance group that he did not have the essential factor to the protected and acknowledged he had seemingly forgotten the essential factor in India whereas visiting family.

However, when the employees member insisted that the audit be executed, Senapathi finally confessed that he had taken the jewellery for pawning.

Later, the entire jewellery was returned to the temple, and the temple suffered no loss, the prosecutor acknowledged.

A police report was filed in direction of the temple priest by a member of the temple committee.

According to the prosecutor, Senapathi had resigned after the incident. A seven-year jail sentence was moreover demanded by the prosecutor for pointing to the extreme pawn value of the jewellery involved.

Senapathi, nonetheless, in his defence, acknowledged that he wanted to help a great pal enhance funds for many cancers and to help colleges and temples in India.

While asserting the choice, the select acknowledged he could not ignore that the case involved about SGD 2 million, a giant amount and higher than any earlier associated circumstances.

In an announcement following the listening to, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) acknowledged it had commissioned a gold audit after the incident at its 4 temples – Sri Mariamman, Sri Srinivasa Perumal, Sri Sivan and Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman.

The audit confirmed that each one jewellery was adequately accounted for. An skilled goldsmith moreover licensed that the jewellery Senapathi had returned was real.

“HEB has further tightened its governance and internal controls to ensure its charitable assets remain protected,” the report quoted the board as saying.

(With inputs from PTI.)