SINGAPORE, February 16, 2021 (Today Online): Indian national Kandasamy Senapathi, the former chief priest of the 149-year-old Sri Mariamman Temple, was charged on Tuesday (Feb 16) after being accused of pocketing 172 pieces of jewelry from 2016 to 2020. The 37-year-old faces five counts each of criminal breach of trust as a servant and of transferring some of the cash out of Singapore to India. The gold ornaments, frequently used for prayers and kept by Kandasamy in the temple’s inner sanctum, had gone missing. Kandasamy allegedly pawned all of them for about US$1.730 million. He also purportedly remitted about $106,000 in cash from his POSB bank account to accounts in India over the four years.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson for the Hindu Endowments Board said that Kandasamy was fired as soon as the temple discovered the jewelry had gone missing. Responding to Kandsamy’s lawyer Mohan Das Naidu’s, argument that Kandasamy has since returned all the jewelry to the temple, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Janice See said that was not the issue at hand. “It is the fact that the jewelry was pawned by the accused and the value obtained was a significant sum.” The pawned amount and the money remitted out of Singapore have not been recovered. Responding, Mr Mohan said that the remitted cash was part of the proceeds from pawning the jewelry. The temple did not suffer any loss and Kandasamy handed over the interest payable to the pawnshops.”

HPI Note: None of the articles on this incident explain clearly how the priest was profitting from pawning the jewelry which he would ultimate return to the temple.