A businessman who embezzled more than $176,000, which was meant to pay for the upkeep of a mosque in Yemen, was jailed for almost three years on Friday.

Abu Bakar Said Ahmad Alhabsi (right), 72, is part of a family put in charge of managing four properties in Joo Chiat – the rent from which was to be used to maintain the Al-Rauda Mosque in the Yemeni city of Seiyun.

The properties had been placed in a religious trust, or wakaf, by tycoon Syed Hood Ahmad Abdul Rahman Alsagoff, who died in 1934, a seven-day trial heard.

In April 2007, Abu Bakar handed over the administration of the trust to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), which manages any wakaf properties that do not have trustees.

He said he was getting old and had been unable to find a replacement.

But he had kept no accounts since 2004 and was unable to explain what had happened to the missing rental income of $176,470.

In January last year he pleaded guilty to embezzling the money – only to retract his plea, claiming he had permission from a representative of the mosque to use the money.

But Mr Ahmed Alawi Al Sheikh Houd Alsaggaf, who flew in from Yemen, testified that he had never given his approval for this as he had no authority to do so.

Abu Bakar was found guilty of embezzlement in a district court last month. On Friday, he was sentenced to two years and nine months in jail.

He has returned $45,500 of the money he siphoned. For committing criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.