Woman in Keppel Club probe gets to withdraw part of her frozen assets for living and legal needs

SINGAPORE - The woman at the centre of a probe into alleged fraud involving Keppel Club memberships will get to withdraw $2,500 per month for living expenses from her frozen assets following a High Court order on Friday.

The court also allowed Madam Setho Oi Lin to take out $130,000 to settle outstanding legal bills and a further sum of $20,000 till next month for legal expenses.

The court, in approving the applications made by her lawyer Philip Fong from Harry Elias Partnership, ruled the orders may be reviewed in six months.

Last September, the High Court had ordered a freeze on the assets of Madam Setho, 68, and two alleged accomplices, for up to the value of $19.28 million frozen until further notice. The asset freeze - known as a Mareva injunction - aims to prevent defendants in a case from disposing of assets, and to enable the plaintiff to recover the sums if a court suit succeeds.

Keppel, represented by lawyers from Lee & Lee is suing Madam Setho, the two other women and the two firms implicated over alleged membership " irregularities" spanning a decade in which about $37.3 million was said to have been lost according to a probe report last year. Keppel's lawyers had sought an asset freeze for up to that sum, but the court capped it at $19.28 million after hearing all parties last year.

Keppel, Singapore's oldest country club, was rocked two years ago by revelations of the alleged fraud, which led to the sacking of Madam Setho, who started with the club as a clerk in 1966 and rose to supervise its membership department. But Madam Setho has hit back and is suing the club for wrongful dismissal and for some $30,000 in lost wages.

She added in defence documents filed last year that she was not the sole custodian of membership files and highlighted audits that cleared the club's accounts every year.

Madam Setho explained she was not responsible for the alleged "membership irregularities", pointing out the club had existed for decades and numerous staff dealt with the membership files - some of which had been misplaced, discarded or damaged.

The High Court case is pending.