Man fined $ 5,000 after deleting company files after being fired

Close up of hands typing on laptop. Night work concept.

SINGAPORE – Angered at being fired by his company, a production manager deleted 20 documents stored in the company’s Google Drive.

Tan Wei Chiang, 30, then lied to his supervisor, saying the documents were still in Google Drive. After being investigated by police, he claimed the documents belonged to him.

While the 786 SG company managed to recover 16 of the documents, it had to recreate three documents from scratch.

Tan was fined $ 5,000 on Tuesday, December 7, after pleading guilty to one count under the Computer Misuse Act of unauthorized modification in January of this year.

Letter of termination with one day’s notice

Tan had been employed since August 10 last year by 786 SG, a company producing meat products. He was responsible for planning the production schedule, checking the quality of the raw material and finished products, and ensuring that customers’ requirements were met.

On January 4 of this year, Tan submitted his resignation letter and began serving his 30-day notice period, under his employment contract. However, on January 12, his supervisor, Goh Jing Yi, handed him a dismissal letter with one day’s notice because his overall performance and the quality of his work had not been up to par.

The letter stated that Tan would receive his final prorated salary on January 31. Tan signed the termination letter.

Goh then asked Tan to hand over all intellectual property rights, current projects, company email login information, and company-related documents to his possession.

Instead, Tan used his company’s user account and logged into the company’s Google Drive. In 10 minutes, he moved 20 documents belonging to his employer in the “trash”, before permanently deleting 16.

Items removed included audit documents, color coding for cleaning equipment, personnel attendance records, production work order form, temperature monitoring records, processing fees, documents required for Singapore Food Agency (SFA) factory audit and workers overtime records.

He was not authorized to delete the documents.

Time and effort spent retrieving and recreating documents

At around 11 p.m. that day, Goh went to Google Drive and found that there were a lot of files missing. She asked Tan via WhatsApp if the production recordings were still in the player and if Tan had deleted them.

“The accused replied that they were still there and told him to search the ‘recent files’ for ‘production manpower’. Ms. Goh then asked the accused if he deleted the file by accident, ”the prosecution said.

When Tan did not respond, Goh contacted the company’s IT staff to check Tan’s user logs and found that he had deleted the documents.

The company successfully recovered 16 of the 20 deleted files. The four files that remained lost were overtime records, the SFA requirements document needed for the factory audit, a product list for workers as a guideline, and an acknowledgment form for customers at the factory. receipt of goods.

The company had to spend time and effort getting IT staff to retrieve all 16 documents. She also had to contact the SFA to explain that she no longer had the document to audit, and to retrieve the documents and records from the SFA. The other three files that were not recovered had to be recreated from scratch.

As a result, the company took the $ 1,500 it owed Tan as compensation.

The prosecution requested a $ 5,000 fine for Tan

Tan admitted in his statement to police on June 15 that although he initially claimed to have removed only documents belonging to him, he had lied.

The prosecution requested a fine of at least $ 5,000 for Tan, because he had committed the offense willfully. He was lucky that the company was able to recover most of the documents, he added.

However, the prosecution was unable to quantify the number of working hours or the sum required for the documents to be recovered or recreated, District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam noted.

Tan’s lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan said it was up to the prosecution to show whether the documents that needed to be recreated were complex. According to Tan, the information for these documents was readily available and was not difficult to gather. In fact, Tan had been tasked with gathering the information contained in the documents.

Kalidass also pointed out that the company also deducted $ 1,500 from Tan as a reward. The defense demanded a fine of $ 2,500, with Kalidass pointing out that his client was young, had just started his career and had an important mark on his record due to his “emotional response.”

“He was treated very harshly by his employer and was angry when he left,” the lawyer said.

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