Singapore Man Heads to Prison for Stealing from Hospital to Feed Gambling Habit

Posted on: May 31, 2022, 05:55h. 

Last updated on: May 31, 2022, 11:45h.

A former manager of Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore will spend the next couple of years behind bars. Thats after he stole from the private hospital, spending the money on gambling, cars, and more.

Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre Singapore
The Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre in Singapore. A former manager at the hospital heads to jail for stealing from clients and the company in order to gamble. (Image: Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre)

The man, Thomas Ng Eng How (age 48), stole more than S$343,000 (US$250,355) from his employer, a facility belonging to Parkway Hospitals Singapore. He altered patients’ bills, pocketed their cash refunds, and forged some patients’ signatures to try to cover his tracks.

Ng appeared in court for sentencing today, pleading guilty to one combined charge of criminal breach of trust by an employee, and eight charges for forgery. A judge ordered him put away for three years and nine months imprisonment. It could have been worse, though, as the prosecutor’s original complaint included 30 similar charges.

Manipulating the System

Ng committed his crimes between 2016 and 2018. It took an extensive audit at the hospital, as well as other Parkway Hospitals Singapore properties, to discover his actions.

Auditors noticed that Gleneagles Hospital had issued large cash refunds as a result of Ng’s actions. The hospital filed a police report in January 2018.

Ng, a manager of a business office, was able to amend the bills of patients in the hospital’s computer systems. He needed permission from his superiors first, but figured out a way to work around that requirement.

Ng learned from his employer that the hospital offered discounts to patients or reduced bills by downgrading their hospital beds. He then modified the patients’ bills to allow for those amounts. Even after the bill was paid in full and the hospital had discharged the patient, this could still be done. A cash refund would be issued to the patient.

The court heard that Ng saw this as an opportunity to steal cash from the hospital. He would list each month any bills that involved foreigners and were not covered under insurance.

These patients were chosen because he thought they would not return to Gleneagles Hospital as frequently as the local patients. As such, he felt that they would be less likely to find out that cash refunds had already been issued to their names.

Ng would then amend the bills of the patients to reduce the final amounts. He could also instruct his subordinates to do the same when they were completing the paperwork. The cash refunds would be processed and kept by Ng.

Ng attempted to hide his actions by forging the signatures of patients affected on cash refund slips. From March 2017 to January 2018, he forged these signatures for amounts up to S$26,000 (US$18,977.40).

Two-Year Run Ends

On January 12, 2018, police arrested Ng following the hospital’s formal complaint. Subsequently, two months later, Ng made partial restitution to the hospital of S$48,000 (US$35,035). However, the damage was already done.

Dhiraj G Chainani, the Deputy Public Prosecutor, requested at least four and a half years in prison. He argued that Ng’s offenses were spread over a considerable period, and the level of intricacy in his scheme warranted a more severe punishment.

Forging a document purporting payment acknowledgment is a crime for which the punishment is up to 15 years in prison and a heavy fine. In addition, Ng could have received up to 15 years in prison and fined for the charge of criminal breach of trust of an employee.

However, after pleading guilty and making partial restitution, his repentance played a role in the judge’s lighter sentence. It also may have helped him avoid a more painful punishment.