Former childcare centre director, 2 employees charged with making fake subsidy claims

Josephine Tan Poh Choo faces eight charges of cheating.
Josephine Tan Poh Choo faces eight charges of cheating.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The director of a now-defunct chain of childcare centres and two of its employees were charged on Wednesday (March 17) with cheating the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) of almost $5,000 in childcare subsidies.

Josephine Tan Poh Choo, 53, and her former employees Arulanandam Rajeswary, 53, and Fatimah Bivee Mohd Shariff, 42, appeared before a district court to have their charges read out to them.

They all face charges of cheating. Tan and Rajeswary each face eight charges, while Fatimah Bivee faces four.

The trio who used to work together at Faith Educare Centre are accused of conspiring to cheat ECDA into disbursing subsidy grants for children who did not attend the centre, some time before January 2016.

The agency administers the childcare subsidies scheme, which helps to defray pre-school expenses for Singaporean children by paying subsidies to licensed childcare centres here.

Tan and Rajeswary are accused of conspiring to fraudulently confirm the attendance of eight children, while Fatimah Bivee was allegedly involved in four of these claims.

ECDA is said to have been dishonestly induced to give the centre a total of $4,800.

It said in a statement on Tuesday that it detected irregularities in Faith Educare's subsidy claims in August 2016 and referred the matter to the police.

The money that was paid out has been fully recovered, it added.

"For the disbursement of pre-school subsidies under ECDA, there are processes and checks in place to ensure the proper use and accountability of government monies. ECDA maintains close oversight of pre-schools' use of government subsidies which includes conducting regular audits," said ECDA.

If convicted, the three women can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined or both.