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PwC’s findings on WP Town Council payments may ‘warrant further investigations’ by authorities

Findings by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) regarding the appointment of FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) by the former managing agent of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) to manage Punggol-East SMC, has suggested that "it could not be said to be done in the best interest of the Town Council or in good faith".

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) took back the management of Punggol East after People's Action Party candidate, Charles Chong won the area back from Workers' Party candidate, Lee Lilian.

After taking over the management, PwC was brought in by the Punggol East SMC to review past payments made by the town council.

The Workers' Party now manages Aljunied and Hougang constituencies, under AHTC, which was formerly known as Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC).

Key findings may warrant further investigations by authorities

A report released by PwC said that while it is beyond their scope to look into potential criminal liability, the circumstances "may warrant further investigations by the relevant authorities as to the relevant potential offences".

According to the findings, PwC stated that the "general lack of documentation" from the Town Council contracts and tender evaluation reports on three accounts contributed to at least $506,562 that could have been saved instead.

First, PwC questioned "why some vendors were awarded contracts although they were the sole bidder and/or did not submit the lowest bid".

Second, the accounting firm also questioned why the Town Council "were engaged in new tenders with significantly higher rates when it could have used existing contracts which provided lower rates".

Third, PwC said that "the award of PE-related contracts (by tender) by the Town Council in some instances were not in compliance with the relevant provisions of the TCFR and/or were not in the best interest of the Town Council".

It said, "The Town Councillors and/or Town Council officers who made the decision to enter into these contracts (and/or approve such payments) without good reasons / justifications and/or in breach of the Town Councils Financial Rules (TCFR), should bear personal responsibilities for the loss of this amount."

In its report, PwC said that documents sent to HDB were also not complete and "must exist". "It is troubling that the relevant correspondence have been withheld from us," PwC's report said.

Responses from parties involved

Ministry of National Development (MND) said it a statement that the findings "reinforce our concerns regarding how public funds under the Town Council’s charge had been managed".

MND also added that "the report also raised the possibility of civil and criminal liabilities, and highlighted the need for further investigations as to the relevant potential offences" as the findings reflected improper payments and highlighted several regulatory breaches made by AHPETC and also raises questions on the propriety of payments made by then-AHPETC to its Managing Agent, FMSS.

In response to the findings, PRPTC said it would seek legal advice on how to proceed as it found the report by PwC "deeply troubling".

AHTC has yet to give their comments on the findings reported by PwC. TODAY Online noted that chairman of AHTC, Mr Pritam Singh, said that AHTC will be "looking into the report".

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