Workers’ Party chief, Low Thia Kiang, said that KPMG’s latest report on Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s (AHTC) did not reveal more than what had already been set out in the Auditor-General’s report on 2015.
Mr Low said that the report seemed “inconclusive” to be amounted to criminal conduct if committed deliberately.
“The report seems to have a lot of answering (to do) despite the fact that they have deployed so much manpower; public money was used and eight months (was) spent (on it). And the town council also spent a lot of manpower in responding to their queries. The MPs were also interviewed to satisfy their questions. But the report unfortunately seems to be inconclusive in that sense,” he said.
KMPG had listed in its report, a total of around, $23.3 million worth of work orders were approved by town council members with a conflict of interest. It also listed work orders worth around $1.5 million that were gauged as improper payment which were also approved by the same town council members, and pointed that around $600,000 ought to be recovered.
Mr Low said on his point, “It is important to look into the definition of ‘improper’.”
He said, referring to a special audit by the Auditor-General’s Office that found major lapses in compliance and governance in AHTC, “To me, the report is simply more detailed than AGO’s report, in terms of the framework, and the kind of lapses they found are basically as the AGO’s but in more detail, yes, because they had spent a lot of time going through the records. It is a forensic audit.”
Mr Low emphasised that the report had not found any conflict of interest in the MPs and town councillors’ relationship with the managing agent and contractors.
He said, “The report has not said anything about conflict of interest between the MPs, town councilors, staff and the managing agent that we appointed, or any contractors (that) were working for the town council,”
“This comes after KPMG had looked into the personal particulars of the MPs, town councilors, some key staff members, as well as their parents, spouses and siblings,” he added.
Mr Low also stressed that the report found no fictitious, fraudulent, or duplicate payments. This was similiar to what was said in its party statement that despite conducting biomial statistical sampling approach, no duplicate or fictitious payments were found.
AHTC had earlier issued its statement on KPMG report, which flagged major lapses in governance and compliance at the town council, that highlighted improper payments made by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) to individuals who were in conflict of interest.
The town council notes that the S$60 million direct payment journal entries highlighted in the July monthly report on progress, which had caused undue public alarm, has been addressed in this payment report.
However, AHTC pointed out that while some payments have been deemed to be made improperly by KPMG, the payments do not appear to have an effect on the legitimacy of the underlying payments, hence, may not necessarily be recoverable.