SINGAPORE - The former secretary and trustee of a Hindu temple has been charged in court with being a board member of the temple while disqualified.
On Wednesday (June 24), Ratha Krishnan Selvakumar, 64, was charged with acting in the capacity of a governing board member of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple despite his conviction on May 9, 2017, of 10 offences involving deception under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
Under the Charities Act, any person who has previously been convicted of offences involving elements of dishonesty - including fraud, corruption, bribery and deception - is disqualified from acting in the capacity of a governing board member, key officer or trustee of any charity.
The police said on Wednesday that Selvakumar continued to be involved as the temple secretary and trustee while under disqualification between May 9, 2017 and April 30, 2018.
The Charities Commissioner barred key board members of the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, including Selvakumar, from their posts on April 30, 2018, after an eight-month probe found "severe mismanagement" in how its money was managed.
A statement issued by the Commissioner of Charities then also said the Commercial Affairs Department was looking into the temple's finances to ensure no criminal offences were committed.
The commissioner had strong words for the temple's management, noting that an inquiry found a "severe lack of care and prudence" by key board members as guardians of the temple's charitable assets between January 2011 and July 2014. Internal controls were nearly "non-existent". Such behaviour had put the temple's funds and assets at risk.
The probe also found many instances where payments given by the temple were not adequately substantiated with sufficient supporting documents. The payments exceeded $500,000.
In 2018, the commissioner appointed three additional board members to the temple's management to put in place proper governance and internal controls in the temple.
They were Ernst & Young partner Shekaran K. Krishnan, Rainbow Across Borders executive director Raman Rajakanth and financial controller Baskaran Ambikapathy.
The Hindu Endowments Board also responded to the commissioner's statement with a spokesman saying that it would assist the temple put in place proper governance and internal controls.
Operations and daily services at the temple have not been disrupted and continued as usual.
Selvakumar will be back in court on July 15. If convicted of acting as a governing board member or key officer or trustee of a charity while disqualified, he faces a fine of up to $10,000, jail of up to three years, or both.