We often ascribe moral righteousness to religious leaders because we believe them to be, in some way, divine.
This perception affords them more trust than the average person.
But history has proven that one’s beliefs, no matter how noble they may seem, don’t prevent you from committing misdeeds.
Chief Priest of S’pore Old’s Hindu Temple Arrested for Criminal Breach of Trust
The police have arrested the chief priest of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple, for criminal breach of trust.
A police report had been lodged about gold ornaments that had gone missing while under the care of its chief priest, Sivashri Kandasamy Senapathi.
According to the temple’s spokesperson, the gold ornaments in question are frequently used for prayer and are kept by its chief priest in the inner sanctum of the temple.
Regular audits are done to ensure that the ornaments are physically accounted for.
“During the last audit, it was discovered (that) some gold ornaments were missing”, the temple spokesperson said.
Maybe he just misplaced them? Like when you’re looking for your pet husky and realised that you left him in the fridge.
After he was questioned, the chief priest returned all the missing gold ornaments.
Fortunately, further checks confirmed that the missing ornaments were all accounted for.
“As it appeared that an offence (had) been committed, a police report was lodged notwithstanding the fact that the temple suffered no loss,” said temple’s statement.
Police investigations are ongoing and the man is currently on bail.
What is a Criminal Breach of Trust?
You might be wondering why the chief priest was arrested for a “criminal breach of trust” and not plain theft.
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Well, according to Singapore Legal Advice, a criminal breach of trust (CBT) occurs when a person who is entrusted with property:
- Converts that property for his own use;
- Misappropriates that property
- Uses/disposes that property in violation of a law or contract
- Deliberately allows another person to do any of the above
One recent example is the City Harvest Church corruption scandal where its church leaders misused $50 million of the church’s funds to further the pop music career of Pastor Kong Hee’s wife.
That was a CBT because they had misused the funds that were entrusted to them by churchgoers.
In this instance, the chief priest of the Sri Mariamman Temple had taken gold ornaments which belonged to the temple when they were under his dominion, making it a CBT as well.
Those found guilty of committing CBT can face up to 7 years of imprisonment and/or a fine, the amount of which the court will determine.
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