Police probing executive director of migrant rights group Home over misappropriation allegations

Home said Ms Deshi Gill was suspended so that the group could conduct an internal inquiry. PHOTO: HOME: HUMANITARIAN ORGANISATION FOR MIGRATION ECONOMICS/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) has suspended its executive director, Ms Deshi Gill, following allegations that she misappropriated funds from the migrant worker advocacy group.

In a statement posted on its social media channels on Tuesday, Home said Ms Gill, 37, was suspended so that the group could conduct an internal inquiry.

Preliminary investigations showed that there was a basis for suspected misconduct, it added.

Home said it has notified the authorities. The police confirmed on Tuesday that a report has been lodged and investigations are ongoing.

Home added that its board and staff will provide all necessary information as part of any investigations that are carried out.

Tuesday’s statement came after allegations were posted online accusing Ms Gill of submitting thousands of dollars in claims to Home without documentary proof of the expenses. The allegations were not substantiated.

Before her suspension, Ms Gill had been working with Home since 2017. She served as its finance manager before being appointed executive director in July 2021.

Before joining the group, she had a background in accounting, based on her LinkedIn social media profile, which has since been taken down.

Home, which is funded by donations, grants and revenue from its social integration services for migrant workers, said it is reviewing its governance controls to ensure similar lapses do not occur again.

The group declined to comment further when contacted by The Straits Times.

“We would like to sincerely thank all members of the public and donors who have supported us over the years,” it said in its statement.

It added: “Home’s commitment to advance the migrant worker cause remains unwavering.

“During this time, all our operations and services continue to function, and we will continue to strive to improve the well-being and dignity of migrant workers in Singapore.”

Founded in 2004, Home is a registered charity and an Institution of Public Character (IPC), which means it is tax-exempt and can issue tax-deductible receipts for donations.

According to its 2021 annual report, it raised a total of $1.87 million in funds that financial year and spent $1.86 million, with $1.71 million going towards its charitable activities.

As at Dec 31, 2021, the group had reserves of $7.32 million in cash and cash equivalents.

In its 2021 financial statement, it said its IPC status is slated to expire on April 30, 2023. At the time of the report, it had applied to renew this status for another five years.

In early 2021, Home organised a fund-raiser for the family of Myanmar maid Piang Ngaih Don, who was tortured to death by her employers in what prosecutors said was one of Singapore’s worst maid abuse cases.

According to Home’s Facebook posts at the time, Ms Gill was the point of contact for donors.

ST has asked Ms Gill for comment.

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