Keppel Club looking into 'phantom memberships'

Keppel Club is looking into whether it must honour memberships purchased by unwitting buyers under an alleged fraudulent scheme. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Keppel Club is looking into whether it must honour memberships purchased by unwitting buyers under an alleged fraudulent scheme. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Keppel Club is looking into whether it must honour memberships purchased by unwitting buyers under an alleged fraudulent scheme.

The 110-year-old golf and social club's management filed a police report in August, alleging fraud potentially involving some 1,200 memberships worth millions of dollars.

Keppel has not issued any new memberships in the past decade, but has allowed members to transfer their memberships, typically through club brokers, for a transfer fee of $12,000 per transaction paid to the club.

It is understood that a long-time club employee in charge of memberships is suspected of having issued some 1,200 membership cards - possibly creating phantom members to do so - without crediting any transfer fees to the club. This could have been carried out over the last 10 years, prompting several who got memberships in that time to worry that their membership may be terminated.

"Even if mine ends up being among the affected few, the fact remains that it was not my wrongdoing," said one member, a 60-year-old engineer and club member of five years, who declined to give his name.

Mr Mervyn Foo, one of the lawyers from Lee & Lee representing Keppel Club, told The Straits Times yesterday: "The matter of whether the club is bound to honour potentially phantom memberships is an issue that the club will have to, and is, considering."

The club declined to comment as investigations are ongoing. The senior management's decision to keep mum has frustrated several club members.

Mr Victor Lim, 59, a retiree and club member for over 20 years, said he is still waiting for answers after writing to the club two weeks ago: "Keeping quiet only makes it seem like they are trying to cover up something."

hpeishan@sph.com.sg