Facts you should know about Criminal Beach of Trust

After various highest-profile cases that involve Criminal-Breach-of-trust (CBT), the parliament of Singapore has implemented a long-awaited Penal Code that came into effect on January 1st, 2020. Criminal-Beach-of-trust’s primary amendment was made based on section 409 code along with an updated section that articulates professional agents’ definition.

Definition of Criminal-Breach-of Trust and its Features

Based on the 405 section of Singapore’s Penal Code, the Criminal-Breach-of-Trust is a dedicated individual who has dominion or entrusted over a particular property inappropriately or dishonestly converts it to his or her personal use in express violation of the law. This standard formula seems much easy when CBT crime is dissected further into three essential features:

  1. Dishonesty
  2. Property Entrustment or property dominion
  3. Conversion or Misappropriation

The above three elements will determine whether the person is entrusted with the property is liable based on CBT law, some offense, if they are entirely liable. Having dominion or entrusted with property implies that someone has general control and supervisory over the property and monetary funds or any other asset they received for fulfilment purpose of the law requirement. 

When the entrustment element doesn’t apply

When an individual has received a particular property or assets for use or safekeeping for personal purpose, the entrustment element will not apply or absent. For instance, the entrustment comprises receiving storage or transportation property, with funds receipt that belongs to the other individual for investment purpose on that person’s behalf.

Conversion or Misappropriation

Conversion or Misappropriation includes using the entrusted property or asset for individual or third party use. Base on the PP vs. Tan Tze Chye case, the meaning of misappropriating is “setting aside” or assigned to the wrong individual for the wrong reasons. For example, an individual who does not hand over entrusted assets to a trustor’s request is considered having dominion on funds for personal use.


Dishonesty is the primary element that qualifies an offense as the Criminal-Breach-of-Trust. Based on the 24 section of Singapore’s Penal code, dishonesty appears when a person acts to achieve wrongful gain or to cause a wrongful loss to someone else. It is according to Er Joo Nguang case and public Prosecutor.

Penalties for the Criminal-Breach-of-Trust offense

The Penal Code of Singapore outlines various Criminal Breach of Trust offenders, with each the consequences depending on the trusted scope endowed for fulfilling their functions. Here are various penalties of anyone charged with the CBT offense:

  • Anyone except the individuals’ mentions below might be fined or imprisoned for up to seven years.
  • People who have been entrusted with particular property for storage or transportation might be fined or imprisoned for 15 years.
  • People who act as employees or, let’s say, employees entrusted with the property might be fined or imprisoned for nearly 20 years.
  • Merchants, Public servants, agents’ officers, bankers, directors, partners’ fiduciary or key executives can be fined or imprisoned for about 20 years.


When considering the penalties, a court may decide to consider other circumstances of assessing the offense gravity such as offense duration, the entrusted value of assets or property, did the accused made any offense restitution? And much more.

Posted in Law