AHTC trial: S$60 million in payments recorded manually, says KPMG
(From left) Workers' Party MPs Pritam Singh, Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim leaving the Supreme Court on Oct 8, 2018. (Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY)
SINGAPORE: About S$60 million of payments made by Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) were recorded manually instead of going through accounts payable – a "significant control weakness", KPMG executive director Owen Hawkes said on Thursday (Oct 11).Mr Hawkes was being cross-examined by defence lawyer Leslie Netto on day five of the landmark AHTC and Pasir-Ris Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) trial.
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In his answers to Mr Netto, who acts for FMSS and its two employees, Mr Hawkes revealed that AHTC withheld a quarter of a million dollars from FMSS’ fees as a result of the deficiencies flagged by the 2015 report by the Auditor-General’s Office.
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Addressing Mr Hawkes, Mr Netto said: “You talked about the accounting problem, and this had got a lot to do with the upgrading of the computer system, and they are not denying it. (This was) because the TCMS was taken away. Are you aware that it was?”“I’m aware that it was taken away by AIM (Action Information Management), and it’s likely no small task to replace your accounting system,” Mr Hawkes said. “However, by the time KPMG was instructed to perform our review of various instances of non-compliance of the Town Councils Act, that was about five years later, which is quite a long time later, and when we looked into, for example, some of the entries in the account system, some of those entries dated back to 2011 and had never been investigated … I don’t think five years later, the accounting system should still be in a problematic state.”Mr Hawkes was released as a witness on Thursday morning. The next witness to take the stand is PRPTC's witness, PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Goh Thien Phong. He will first be cross-examined by Mr Chelva Retnam Rajah, defence counsel for the WP MPs and AHTC councillors.