MND, HDB ask WP-run AHTC to take steps to recover improper past payments

Residents walk past the entrance of the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) on Oct 23, 2016. ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH

SINGAPORE - The authorities have asked Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC), run by the Workers' Party, to take steps to recover improper payments that it made.

The Housing Board, in a letter to AHTC on Friday (Nov 4), also asked that it confirms within seven days that it will appoint a suitable third party to take steps on its behalf, "to recover the monies which have been lost".

These steps include taking legal action where necessary, the HDB said. The Ministry of National Development (MND), parent ministry of the HDB, was similarly stern when it said:

"To protect residents' interests, steps must be taken to recover the monies which have been lost, and to ensure that those who acted wrongfully are held to account."

Accounting firm KPMG, hired by AHTC to review its accounts, had identified improper payments amounting to more than $1.5 million that AHTC made to its then-managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and service provider FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI).

The town council also made another $5.4 million of improper payments through the use of a higher- priced consultant panel and overpaying a town councillor, among other things.

KPMG had said in its report that, if the payments were made intentionally, it could amount to criminal wrongdoing.

MND said "the Government is also considering what other steps are relation to the way some of the Town Councillors have behaved, in dealing with public funds".

MND said it was deeply concerned with the latest findings by KPMG adding that the report found serious legal and other regulatory breaches, and improper payments made from town council funds running into millions of dollars.

The report had also identified the possibility of criminal conduct, noted MND.

It said: "These findings by KPMG are serious. There has been a significant loss of public monies."

The accountant said it had identified at least $624,621 that AHTC had made in improper payment that should be recovered. But AHTC disagreed that most of the payments were improper.

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