Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) has announced that it has appointed an Independent Panel of three eminent persons, which are Mr Philip Jeyaretnam SC, Mr N Sreenivasan SC and Mr Ong Pang Thye to act as agents to review findings of KPMG past payments reports which was done in October 2016.
Mr Pritam Singh, Chairman of AHTC, stated that the Panel will act independently, without remuneration, and without taking directions from AHTC, HDB or any other party, adding that AHTC has given its undertaking to support the work of the Independent Panel fully and as expeditiously as possible.
The town council run by Workers’ Party, stated that it has been studying KPMG’s Past Payments Report since it was issued on 31 Oct 2016. The contents of the report have been published fully by AHTC, and there has been wide media coverage of the same.
While AHTC’s key officials have a different perspective from the audit team on key aspects of the report, AHTC believes that it is in the interests of AHTC and its residents to appoint an independent panel to review the findings and take such action as deemed appropriate to safeguard AHTC’s interests.
Auditor KMPG highlighted in its report published in Oct 2016 that improper payments were made by Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol-East Town Council (AHPETC) to individuals who were in conflict of interest and said that there were “serious flaws” in the town council’s governance.
The report, entitled “Report on Improper Payments” pointed out that the direct owners of two companies, FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI) were appointed as its managing agent, as well as providers of essential maintenance services, they also held key management and financial control positions in the town council at the same time. Resulting in a conflict of interest as they were the ones who approved the work orders and payment orders.
Several prominent members of the ruling party jumped at the report, making various claims of WP but kept quiet when the subsequent reports found no evidence of dubious or illegal payments.
Members of the Independent Panel
Philip Antony Jeyaretnam, 53, is a Singaporean lawyer and novelist. He is a Senior Counsel and a former President of the Law Society of Singapore. He will act as the Chairman of the Panel. In 1991, Mr Philip was a Fulbright Fellowship visitor to the University of Iowa International Writing Program and to the Harvard Law School. He was also an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Building at the National University of Singapore (NUS) from July 2006 to June 2007.
He is currently a member of the Singapore Public Service Commission and of the SIAC Regional Panel of Arbitrators. In July 2005, Mr Philip was appointed as a board member of the Singapore National Kidney Foundation. He is a former President of the Law Society of Singapore, and was Chairman of the Society of Construction Law from 2002 to 2004.
Mr N Sreenivasan SC is a founder and the Managing Director of Straits Law Practice. He is one of the cadre of Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore.
Mr Sreeni has practised extensively in almost all areas of litigation over the past 30 years, appearing regularly before the High Court, the Court of Appeal and arbitral tribunals. His areas of specialty include banking, corporate and commercial litigation, business crime defence and shareholder and investment disputes He is also a key member of the firm’s India Practice Group and has extensive experience with regional matters, in particular matters relating to Indonesia. He has served as Treasurer and Ex-Co member of the Law Society of Singapore and has chaired its Advocacy Committee for seven years.
Mr Sreeni currently serves on the board of the Singapore Business Federation Foundation and the management committeee of the Law Society Pro Bono Management Committee.
Mr Ong Pang Thye is the Managing Partner of KPMG in Singapore. Prior to this, he was the Deputy Managing Partner and held various leadership roles within the firm and the global network. He headed the Audit practice in Singapore and was previously KPMG’s Head of Accounting Advisory Services in Asia Pacific. Pang Thye also has extensive experience in Advisory, having been the Head of Risk Consulting at KPMG in Singapore.
Pang Thye has 26 years of experience in both audit and advisory. He sits on the National University of Singapore’s Department of Accountancy Advisory Board and Singapore Institute of Technology’s Industry Advisory Committee for the Accountancy Programme. He is a Council Member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants and Council Member of Certified Public Accountants Australia, Singapore Branch.