Police probing alleged fraud at Keppel Club involving possibly $14m

Keppel Club's management has filed a police report alleging fraud that potentially involves around $14 million in membership transfer fees. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Keppel Club's management has filed a police report alleging fraud that potentially involves around $14 million in membership transfer fees. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Club reportedly cheated of membership transfer fees

The management of Keppel Club, a golf and social club founded in 1904, has filed a police report alleging fraud that potentially involves around $14 million in membership transfer fees.

The management reported the matter to the Commercial Affairs Department in August, but the case is being handled by the police and investigations are ongoing, The Straits Times understands.

The club, which serves about 5,000 members, has not issued any new memberships in the past decade. Instead, existing members can transfer their memberships to new members, typically through club brokers.

The club collects a $12,000 transfer fee for each transaction.

A well-placed source told The Straits Times that a long-serving club employee who oversaw the memberships is suspected of having issued some 1,200 membership cards without crediting any of the transfer fees to the club.

This would amount to around $14 million in transfer fees lost.

The employee is believed to have carried out the scheme over about 10 years. It is not known if she duplicated existing memberships or created phantom ones.

The staff member in question is understood to be in her late 60s and have worked for the club for more than 40 years. The Straits Times understands that she was fired at the end of October.

Club members who spoke on condition of anonymity said rumours had been swirling in the past two months about the discreet probe, but that the club's management has yet to issue any official notification about the matter.

"There must be something that is big and the club is keeping quiet about it," said one.

A broker is also suspected of being involved. But no broker was willing to be interviewed because of fears of repercussions in what is known to be a small industry.

Keppel Club's management also declined to comment on recent developments, citing ongoing investigations.

The alleged fraud is yet another blow for the club, after it was announced in February that the land it is leasing has been earmarked for housing purposes and the lease will not be renewed when it is up in seven years.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg