SINGAPORE, May 30, 2023 (Channel News Asia): Over almost five years, the chief priest of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple misused ceremonial jewelry by pawning it repeatedly – to the tune of over US$1.5 million. Kandasamy Senapathi, 39, was caught only when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, throwing the regular audit timing off and revealing the missing jewelry. Kandasamy was sentenced to six years’ jail on Tuesday (May 30) for his crimes. He pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal breach of trust by dishonest misappropriation and two charges of transferring criminal proceeds out of the country. Another six charges were considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Kandasamy, an Indian national, was employed by the Hindu Endowments Board as a priest at Sri Mariamman Temple from December 2013 until he resigned on Mar 30, 2020. Kandasamy was entrusted with the keys and combination number code to the safe in the temple’s holy sanctum sometime in 2014. The safe contained 255 pieces of gold jewelry owned by the temple, with a book value of about $814,000. He began pawning pieces of the jewelry in 2016, taking them to pawn shops and later redeeming them by using money he obtained from pawning other pieces of temple jewelry. Deputy Public Prosecutor Janice See said that, in this case, the real mischief is not in the fact that he did not lose the jewelry – but that he used temple jewelry that did not belong to him and was in fact for sacred use, in order to generate a side income.

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