AHTC lawsuits

Davinder makes the case that How misled AHTC; she disagrees

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh put it to Ms How Weng Fan that she contributed to AHTC's decision to award a tender to FMSS.
Senior Counsel Davinder Singh put it to Ms How Weng Fan that she contributed to AHTC's decision to award a tender to FMSS.PHOTO: ST FILE

A majority owner of FM Solutions & Services (FMSS), managing agent for the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), could have manually done a three-year projection of its fees for the town council in 2012 - ahead of being awarded its second contract. But it did not do so.

In refusing to provide the town council a projection of the managing agent's fees, and by telling AHTC that it had enough money to pay FMSS in the following year, Senior Counsel Davinder Singh put it to Ms How Weng Fan yesterday that she contributed to AHTC's decision to award a tender to FMSS.

Ms How, who was also general manager and deputy secretary of the AHTC at the time, disagreed.

Mr Singh added that her actions impacted AHTC and FMSS' finances as well. While AHTC had a $1.5 million deficit in 2013 and a $2 million deficit in 2014, FMSS' revenue rose by 30 per cent over this period - by $2 million - he told the High Court yesterday.

"What happened in those two years was, the money moved from the town council to FMSS, in a way where AHTC was funding, through its deficit, (FMSS') revenue and profits," he charged.

Ms How disagreed, but did not dispute the figures.

She said the jump in revenue was because the Punggol East constituency came under the opposition town council in 2013, after the Workers' Party (WP) won the seat in a by-election. She added that a rise in operating expenditure added to AHTC's deficit as well.

 
 
 

She then said Mr Singh was "wrong and misleading this court".

He replied: "Any competent, honest, conscientious and honourable secretary, deputy secretary and general manager would, in response to a request... have not just done a projection, but taken into account many of the things that you yourself have just described."

He was referring to Ms How, her late husband Danny Loh, who was the AHTC's secretary and a majority owner of FMSS, and events such as the by-election.

Ms How said she had cited uncertainties in the external environment as a reason FMSS could not give a projection. "How would we know that the Punggol East by-election would (take place)?" she asked.

She earlier also said that FMSS had trouble doing budgeting with its computer system at the time, saying a former computer vendor had "withheld" information. It would have to do projections manually, which would have been difficult.

Mr Singh said she did not cite in her evidence computer system issues as an obstacle to churning out the projection. He charged that she had "persuaded" the town council not to pursue the projection so it would award the contract to FMSS "at the rates (she) wanted".

Ms How disagreed.

The projection of fees was one of several instances Mr Singh suggested Ms How had misled the council.

He also charged, among other issues, that she was "lying" when she said her husband had disclosed to some elected councillors that they were FMSS' owners during a June 2011 presentation about the company's set-up. Ms How said some others found out about the matter later, and the rest at an August 2011 meeting.

Mr Singh put to her that other witnesses who took the stand did not allude to such disclosures, which he noted the couple saw as necessary since they were serving in both FMSS and AHTC.

"You and your husband carefully avoided disclosing ownership interest... to have the managing agent contract that your company had obtained remain undisturbed," he said. He added that she appeared to be in "cahoots" with the WP MPs in AHTC who knew of FMSS' ownership to hide their interests from the rest of the town council.

Ms How replied: "I disagree totally with you, and how you have fully inverted the truth."

In another instance, Mr Singh questioned why she signed off as AHTC's general manager on a June 2011 invoice that FMSS issued to the town council - though she did not hold that position yet.

"You were in a blatant conflict of interest... but you were happy to facilitate AHTC's payment because it was going to be made to your company," he said.

"That is preposterous," she replied, explaining that the stamp used had been an old one and was merely to acknowledge the invoice had come to the council.

Mr Singh put to her: "Ms How, I suggest to you that this is yet another example of you acting in cahoots to get payment out of AHTC, in circumstances where you knew this was improper and dishonest."

She disagreed.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2018, with the headline 'Davinder makes the case that How misled AHTC; she disagrees'. Print Edition | Subscribe