$5m reported missing from co-op's accounts

$5m reported missing from co-op's accounts
Members exiting the annual general meeting of Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' Co-operative held at Singapore Khalsa Association.

SINGAPORE - About $5 million has been reported missing from the accounts of the Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' Co-operative Thrift and Loan Society.

Police have confirmed a report was lodged, and added that they are looking into the matter.

It is believed that the possible misappropriations were carried out by employees of the co-op, and that the fraud was discovered early this year.

The Straits Times understands that a large number of people have been interviewed and are assisting in investigations.

Members of the co-op are expected to be informed of the missing funds at its annual general meeting this morning at the Singapore Khalsa Association.

Founded in 1925, Singapore's oldest co-op has at least 1,000 members who are permanent employees of all statutory boards.

It is regulated by the Registry of Co-operative Societies, which comes under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Queries to the co-op went unanswered yesterday, and employees contacted said they were not allowed to comment.

According to its 2013 annual co-op report, the Registry enforces rules "to protect co-op members' interests, but also works with our stakeholders to develop and refine policies that encourage the growth of the co-op sector so that more people will participate in and benefit from the co-op movement".

As of March 31 last year, there were 28 credit co-ops here with a total of 163,000 members and assets totalling $971 million.

All thrift and loan co-ops operate on a self-financing basis. A member pays a small entrance fee and undertakes to put in a regular monthly saving towards the Subscription Capital.

Generally, co-ops provide financial services by taking in deposits and granting loans to members.

The Straits Times understands that Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' co-op is trying to recover the missing funds.

It is not the first time the co-op is making the news.

In 2003, The Straits Times reported on a spat between two of its top executives. Both filed police reports alleging that each had used the co-op's funds improperly, and one was later sacked for making unfounded allegations.

joycel@sph.com.sg

This article was published on June 14 in The Straits Times.

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