High Court turns down MND request for independant accountants for WP-run AHPETC

High Court turns down MND request for independant accountants for WP-run AHPETC
27.05.2015

SINGAPORE – The High Court will not appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants to the Workers’ Party (WP)-run town council.

Justice Quentin Loh said that the Ministry of National Development (MND) has not established legal bases for its court application to appoint the accountants.

Despite the “grave and serious questions” raised over the state of accounts at Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC), the judge wrote that “when the Town Councils are set up, the whole idea is to rest the responsibility of the management of the funds as well as the estate with the Town Council.”

The Court therefore will not appoint independent accountants to oversee payments made by AHPETC.

MND had wanted independent accountants to sign off on AHPETC payments over $20,000 before it released several million in government grants to the town council.

But in his grounds of decision, released on Wednesday, Justice Loh said that it is a “travesty for AHPETC to have ignored their duties and obligations imposed on them by the Town Councils Act and Town Council Financial Rules.”

“They owe a duty and a heavy responsibility to their constituents to run AHPETC properly and it is incumbent on them to put their house and finances in order.”

“If AHPETC was a managing corporation … I have no doubt that AHPETC or its officers will be exposed to to the possibility of civil liability or, in an extreme scenario, criminal liability,” he added. Click here