Ex-assistant director of now-defunct childcare centre chain fined for role in govt subsidy scam

Arulanadam Rajeswary had conspired with two other accomplices.
Arulanadam Rajeswary had conspired with two other accomplices.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The former assistant director of a now-defunct childcare centre chain conspired with two others to scam a government agency into wrongfully disbursing nearly $5,000 in childcare subsidies.

Arulanadam Rajeswary, who was the principal at several Faith Educare childcare centres before she was promoted, was fined $6,000 on Tuesday (Sept 21).

The 53-year-old pleaded guilty to two cheating charges involving $2,100 of the sum wrongfully disbursed.

Another six similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing by District Judge Wong Li Tein.

Rajeswary had conspired with two other accomplices - Josephine Tan Poh Choo, 53, and Fatimah Bivee Mohd Shariff, 43 - to submit multiple false subsidy claims to the Early Childcare Development Agency (ECDA)in 2016.

The claims were for children who did not or had yet to attend the childcare centres.

Tan was the director and shareholder of the centres, while Fatimah was the principal at two of them.

Sometime in 2015 or January 2016, Tan instructed Rajeswary to submit basic childcare subsidy claims to the ECDA for children who did not or had yet to attend the centres.

Rajeswary was to use information previously obtained in forms submitted to the childcare centres by parents seeking to apply for the subsidies.

She was also to "confirm" the children's attendance in the ECDA's Childcare Link System, where the subsidy claims are submitted.

Fatimah would sign "on behalf" of the parents in the "sign-in and sign-out" records to show that the children were purportedly there.

The ECDA disbursed $4,800 as a result of the false claims by the trio.

It made a police report on Aug 31, 2016. Court documents did not state how the offences were discovered.

Rajeswary and Fatimah did not directly benefit from the conspiracy to cheat the agency, said the court documents.

Tan had made full restitution of the amount that was wrongfully disbursed.

Rajeswary is the last member of the trio to be dealt with.

Tan was fined $10,500 on July 6, while Fatimah was fined $3,000 on July 1.

In Tan's case, the court had heard that she sold the centres in December 2019.

For each of her cheating-related charges, Rajeswary could have been jailed for up to three years, or fined, or both.