SSO to get more leeway to manage its funds

SSO to get more leeway to manage its funds
Lan Shui conducting the orchestra, which has also performed to critical acclaim in cities abroad.

SINGAPORE - A successful High Court application by the Singapore Symphonia Company (SSC) has paved the way for its $25 million trust fund to be dissolved and the proceeds transferred to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's (SSO) endowment fund.

This will give the orchestra flexibility in using the funds, instead of being hampered by the onerous conditions of the trust.

The trust fund - known as the Singapore Totalisator Board Trust - was created by the Tote Board in 1989 for the SSO with the income from the capital sum to help with the orchestra's operations.

The board operates horse racing through the Singapore Turf Club and other forms of betting through Singapore Pools, and manages funding activities from the gaming surpluses.

The original trustees of the SSO fund were Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr E.W. Barker, Mr Tan Boon Teik and Mr Koh Beng Seng.

One condition in the trust was for any loss or shortfall in the $25 million to be made good first before income could be paid out.

As the 2008 financial crisis caused the trust value to erode below $25 million, this sparked a deficit for the SSO, which had budgeted for the income.

The board refused its request for a top-up but subsequently agreed to donate all the standing funds in the trust to the SSO's endowment fund.

Unlike a trust fund, which is governed by conditions prescribed by the donors, an endowment fund is typically made up of direct donations and is administered by the organisation itself.

The SSC, represented by Allen & Gledhill lawyer Andrew Chan, had to first dissolve the trust by seeking a court declaration that Tote Board and the SSC were the only beneficiaries under the trust.

Judicial Commissioner Edmund Leow granted the order, as there was no other party entitled to any interest in the trust. Being the only two beneficiaries, they were entitled to dissolve it.

"The SSO, as the recipient of a gift of trust funds, was undoubtedly a beneficiary," he added in judgment grounds released yesterday.

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