FAS saga: Zainudin Nordin denies having business dealings with Bill Ng

Checks by The Sunday Times had shown that Mr Zainudin Nordin was listed as a director of ESW Manage, a firm with links to Mr Ng's firm, Financial Frontiers. But Mr Zainudin refuted this, saying he was "appointed as adviser to ESW" and his role was to
Checks by The Sunday Times had shown that Mr Zainudin Nordin was listed as a director of ESW Manage, a firm with links to Mr Ng's firm, Financial Frontiers. But Mr Zainudin refuted this, saying he was "appointed as adviser to ESW" and his role was to advise ESW on its corporate social responsibility work.ST FILE PHOTO

Former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin, one of the figures named in an ongoing police probe, has denied that he has business dealings with Tiong Bahru FC (TBFC) chairman Bill Ng.

Checks by The Sunday Times had shown that Mr Zainudin was listed as a director of private equity firm ESW Manage, a firm with links to Mr Ng's firm, Financial Frontiers. But the former Bishan-Toa Payoh MP told Today newspaper that this is not true, giving his first full comments since the controversy over a $500,000 donation erupted on April 13.

He said: "I was appointed as adviser to ESW Manage in January 2017. My role is to advise ESW on their CSR (corporate social responsibility) work. This appointment was after my stepping down as president of FAS (in November 2016).

"I turned down the offer to be chairman of TBFC. Mr Bill Ng and I are not business partners and we do not have any business dealings."

The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) is investigating an alleged misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru FC, a club in the National Football League (NFL) whose chairman is Mr Ng. The inquiry, which started with raids on three football clubs and the FAS offices on Thursday, came after the national sport governing body Sport Singapore made a police report on Wednesday.

Mr Zainudin, FAS general secretary Winston Lee, Mr Ng and his wife Bonnie Wong Yuk Ying have been interviewed by the police.

Mr Lee, who launched the 2017 NFL season at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday, told the media that "at the moment, there is an ongoing investigation" and "it's not appropriate for me to comment on this, but we will cooperate fully with the authorities on this".

Mr Zainudin, now deputy principal (development) at the Institute of Technical Education College East, also confirmed that he was assisting the authorities.

He said: "I had all this while hoped that the election will proceed smoothly and fairly, and thus chose not to make any statements.

"As things turned out, I am now giving the authorities all the help for their investigations and I will do everything to help put this behind us. My wish is for Singapore soccer to do well, which has been my passion and devotion all these years."

Mr Ng is leading a team to contest Saturday's FAS election. He had claimed on April 13 that Tiong Bahru had made a $500,000 donation but there was a dispute between him and Mr Lee about who and what the funds - which ended up with the Asean Football Federation - were meant for.

Despite the controversy surrounding Mr Ng, Mr Krishna Ramachandra, a member of his Game Changers team, was confident that it would not harm their chances when the 44 FAS affiliates gather to vote for either Game Changers or Team LKT, led by lawyer and former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong.

Mr Krishna told The Sunday Times on the sidelines of yesterday's NFL launch: "I do not believe that they (Team LKT) have the upper hand."

The vice-presidential nominee added: "I do not look at it as a saga but more of a justifiable inquiry which will hopefully clarify issues that relate to the administration of football in the current ecosystem."

Speaking at the same event, Mr Lim agreed that his team cannot assume it holds the upper hand and remained cautious about his nine-member slate's chances at the polls. He said: "We cannot be over-confident."

He added: "The current police investigation... is a sad episode. But in the meantime, we will be engaging voters to tell them that we are the better team."

•Additional reporting by John Pravin & Ian Kiew

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Zainudin denies having business dealings with Bill Ng'. Print Edition | Subscribe