Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore
What is the offence of Criminal Breach of Trust (“CBT”)?
Here is what you need to know about CBT in Singapore.
What is Criminal Breach of Trust?
Before we understand what CBT is, we must understand the terms associated with CBT. Here are the following terms and a brief explanation in the context of CBT:
- Property – anything that has a monetary value. E.g. money, bonds, a watch or a mobile phone, etc.
- Entrust – when the property is given to someone with instruction of the intended use. E.g. an employee given petty cash to buy stationary with or a friend that asked to safekeep a laptop.
- Dominion – control over the property. E.g. a manager given the monies (i.e. float) for the cash register for daily operation.
- Dishonest – Someone must have acted dishonestly, so that they themselves would have wrongfully benefited or cause a wrongful loss to the owner of the property.
- Misappropriates – using the entrusted property for another purpose that was not intended. E.g. the laptop that was requested for safekeeping, the other party decide to sell it and pocket the funds.
- Converts – when someone takes another’s property and use for his own. E.g. the laptop that was requested for safekeeping, the other party decide to use it for his own use.
- Disposes – to get rid of the property.
Now that we know the terms, what does all these mean when put together? According to section 405 of the Penal Code, CBT is defined as anyone who has been entrusted with or given dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or use, converts into his own or disposes of such property against the intention of the property owner. Usually the intention is contractual in nature, expressed or implied.
To simplify, when someone breaches the trust given to them by someone else. For example, if an employee uses the monies or property, trusted to them by their employer, in any way that was not originally intended (such as using the company’s money for personal gamble), it would constitute an offence of CBT.
What are the punishments?
For those who are convicted of an offence of simple CBT, they may be sentenced to an imprisonment term that may extend to 7 years, or with fine, or with both.
For those who are convicted for an officer of CBT entrusted for the purpose of transport for hire or storage, or by an employee, they may be sentenced to an imprisonment term that may extend to 15 years and will also be fined.
Finally, the most severe punishment is for those who are convicted for an offence of CBT by public servants, bankers, merchants, agents, directors, officers, partners, key executives or those with fiduciary duty. Those convicted may be sentence to an imprisonment term which may extend to 20 years and will also be fined.
Can I be arrested for CBT and if I am, can I get bail?
Yes, all forms of CBT are an arrestable offence according to the Criminal Procedure Code. This means that the police can arrest a suspect without a warrant.
Yes, CBT is a bailable offence, but it is up to the investigation officers or the court to issue bail.