SINGAPORE: An interior designer and shareholder of an interior design firm pocketed S$134,000 in clients’ payments for renovation projects over a year.

For one count of criminal breach of trust, with another two similar charges taken into consideration, 40-year-old Eugene Chia Hsien Yau was sentenced on Tuesday (Nov 24) to 10 months’ jail.

The court heard that Chia was one of the shareholders of Interior Diary, a firm that was set up in 2016 with three other shareholders. 

Chia was also a director at a sister company called Liquid Construction, from where he pocketed another S$20,000. This formed one of the charges taken into consideration.

As a project manager at Interior Diary, Chia was responsible for sales and liaising with clients for renovation projects, including the collection of payments.

Sometime in early 2017, Chia began misappropriating payments collected for these projects. He would submit part of the amounts collected from clients to the company’s accountant, but keep the rest and use it on his personal expenses.

Between Mar 26, 2017 and Mar 23, 2018, he took S$134,381.60 in payment monies from clients across 11 renovation projects.

The director of Interior Diary caught wind of the crimes and lodged a police report in March 2019.

Chia’s lawyer said his client has a relatively clean record and has made full restitution. He said his client was affected badly by COVID-19, with his father coming out of retirement to support him.

He asked for two weeks’ deferment of the sentence, for Chia to do some touch-up work for renovation projects and to address financial issues for his family.

The judge allowed Chia to begin serving his sentence on Dec 14. For criminal breach of trust, Chia could have been jailed for up to seven years, fined, or both.

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