WP did not give ‘free rein’ to FMSS: Lawyer

The New Paper - - NEWS - RACHEL AU-YONG, PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Day 4 of Alju­nied-Hougang Town Coun­cil civil suit

he added, was among his key con­cerns when his firm was tasked to look into AHTC’s books af­ter the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral’s Of­fice (AGO) found sig­nif­i­cant gov­er­nance lapses in a spe­cial au­dit.

Mr Ra­jah also sought to es­tab­lish, ref­er­enc­ing var­i­ous e-mails, that the WP town coun­cil­lors had in­deed checked all the ex­penses they were sign­ing off on, and had not ap­proved them blindly.

He pointed out, among other things, that then-AHTC chair­man Sylvia Lim had high­lighted FMSS’ pro­posal to spend $11 mil­lion on lift main­te­nance and re­pairs, not­ing that the town coun­cil “could not af­ford” to spend that amount yearly.

But, Mr Hawkes said she was merely turn­ing down items that were not ap­pli­ca­ble, adding that the cor­re­spon­dence took place in June 2015, af­ter the AGO re­port was out.

“So, maybe there is more sen­si­tiv­ity to the is­sue at this point,” he said.

Mr Ra­jah also took is­sue with KPMG’s sug­ges­tion that AHTC re­solves its con­flict of in­ter­est is­sue by get­ting an in­de­pen­dent mem­ber of the town coun­cil to ap­prove pay­ments at each stage. This was not prac­ti­cal as it would re­quire a lot of time, he added.

Mr Hawkes replied: “It would be ad­di­tional work, I agree. But ad­di­tional con­flicts re­quire ad­di­tional con­trols... Other­wise, you are ef­fec­tively hav­ing your cake and eat­ing it.”

The case con­tin­ues to­day.

rachelay@sph.com.sg

TNP PHO­TOS: KHALID BABA

WP’s lawyer, Mr Chelva Ra­jah (left), ar­gued that WP town coun­cil­lors had a proper SOP in place to man­age the al­leged con­flict of in­ter­est, but KPMG ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Owen Hawkes (right) said the SOP ap­peared to be just a pro­posal.

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