AHTC trial: FMSS' How Weng Fan recorded, submitted phone call saying WP's Sylvia Lim is 'hopeless'

Ms How Weng Fan, then the deputy secretary for Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, had recorded her 2016 phone conversation with an executive from auditing firm KPMG. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A conversation in which scathing remarks were made about Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim was secretly recorded by the same person who was lashing out.

Ms How Weng Fan, then the deputy secretary for Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), had recorded her 2016 phone conversation with an executive from auditing firm KPMG.

During this phone call, she described Ms Lim as "hopeless" and said AHTC would die under her watch. She also blamed Ms Lim for her husband's death in 2015.

Ms How then volunteered the recording as evidence for a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit brought against eight defendants, including Ms How and Ms Lim, over alleged improper payments AHTC made to its managing agent FM Solutions & Services (FMSS) and its service provider.

Ms How and her late husband Danny Loh, both WP supporters, were FMSS' main shareholders.

Lawyer David Chan, who is representing AHTC, established this chain of events in a short cross-examination on Tuesday (Oct 30), Day 17 of the trial.

He asked Ms How if she had recorded the call, as well as provided the court with the recording.

Ms How replied yes to both counts.

"And you didn't tell (the KPMG executive) the call was being recorded, right?"

No, she said.

During her re-examination, Ms How also reiterated to the court that a letter of intent which FMSS sent AHTC on June 22 was not confirmation that FMSS had already been awarded the contract.

She said she needed Ms Lim's reply first, which she received two weeks later.

"While we have undertaken the commitment (to take on liability and risk as a company), we equally needed the commitment from her… We needed the documents to buy insurances. It was a bit uncertain if (WP) was still going to proceed (then)," she said.

ANOTHER FMSS SHAREHOLDER TAKES THE STAND

After Ms How was stood down, FMSS shareholder Yeo Soon Fei took the stand. While FMSS was still hired by AHTC, he was also the town council's deputy general manager.

On Tuesday, Mr Chan sought to establish that the "entire payment process was controlled by people to which payment was made", including Mr Yeo, Ms How and Mr Loh.

The trio were involved in signing off on multiple stages of the payment process, including work orders, tax invoices and payment vouchers, said Mr Chan.

But Mr Yeo insisted that the ultimate control was with the town council.

"Eventually who is the paymaster? The town council. They pay us for works we deliver," he said.

Another problem in the payment process was that a stamp used by Mr Yeo, which was meant to certify that works had been completed, was not accurate, Mr Chan tried to show.

Rather, it was used as a means to confirm that monetary sums had been calculated correctly.

Mr Yeo said this was not accurate, and that there were checks in place, such as an internal system to track whether residents' complaints had been dealt with.

To this, Mr Chan said the system was limited in its functions.

After some back and forth, Mr Yeo confirmed that the stamp was only to certify if the numbers tallied.

Later, Mr Chan asked him who ensured that works and services were delivered satisfactorily.

Mr Yeo said the spectrum of a managing agent's work ran wide and the best persons to ensure that works were done were the MPs.

That was because they could keep track of these through their regular meetings and the complaint management system, he said.

"The MPs saw us working. We were working day and night… I had high blood pressure because of this. It's very stressful. We have so many audits, we have to do day-to-day work, it's not like we sit there and do nothing. We cannot sit there and let the town council die. I go back 8pm or 9pm every day, I even go back on weekends," he said.

Mr Chan said: "I'm not suggesting you are not working hard."

With no questions for re-examination, Mr Yeo was stood down before lunch.

The hearing resumes after lunch.

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