Ex-mosque leader admits taking $370k in donations

Ab Mutalif Hashim used some of the money to pay for things such as credit card bills and medical expenses.
Ab Mutalif Hashim used some of the money to pay for things such as credit card bills and medical expenses.

The chairman of the Darussalam Mosque's management board misappropriated more than $370,000 of its cash collections from 2006 to 2013, a district court heard yesterday.

Ab Mutalif Hashim, 58, pleaded guilty to six criminal breach of trust charges involving more than $300,000. Eight other similar charges linked to the remaining amount will be considered during sentencing.

Ab Mutalif was the board's chairman from 2003 to August 2010, before becoming its voluntary chairman until March 2013.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin told the court yesterday that Darussalam Mosque in Commonwealth Avenue West had obtained the cash from worshippers, who made their contributions through donation chests and containers during Friday prayer sessions.

The DPP added that after these sessions, Ab Mutalif instructed people, such as the mosque's volunteers, to take the chests and containers to his office for "safekeeping".

But he took some of the money and deposited it into various bank accounts without the authorisation of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the mosque's management board.

DPP Chin told District Judge Ong Chin Rhu that Ab Mutalif used some of the monies received in his personal account to pay for, among other things, credit card bills, family allowances, travelling and medical expenses.

After helping himself to the mosque's cash collections, the balance was later rightfully deposited into its bank account, according to procedure.

In a statement yesterday, Muis said it alerted the police after detecting financial irregularities at the mosque in 2013.

It added: "Over the past few years, Muis has conducted refresher training on the mosque financial regulations to mosque staff and members of the mosque management boards to create greater awareness on the importance of good financial management.

"Muis has also put in place regular independent audits on all mosques to ensure compliance with the mosque financial regulations."

Ab Mutalif is represented by lawyer Satwant Singh and is out on bail of $70,000. He is expected to be sentenced on April 15.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-mosque leader admits taking $370k in donations'. Print Edition | Subscribe