Police probing alleged fraud at Keppel Club involving possibly $14m
The Straits Times
By Hoe Pei Shan
The management of Keppel Club, a golf and social club founded in 1904, has filed a police report alleging fraud that potentially involves around $14 million in membership transfer fees.
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Cops probe club's 'phantom' memberships
The Business Times
By Anita Gabriel
The over 100-year-old Keppel Club has been rocked by a recent shocking discovery of "phantom" memberships involving over 1,000 accounts at the club.
The Business Times (BT) understands that the case, which allegedly involved a staff member, is under investigation by police and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), and that the club is "providing their cooperation" in the "extensive investigations".
This latest development could be disconcerting for members of the club, which was hit earlier this year by news that the lease on the 44 ha of land it occupies, which includes its club house and an 18-hole course, has been slated for housing developments and will not be renewed when it runs out in seven years.
When contacted, a senior member of the club's management team declined to provide details of the probe, but confirmed that the matter was under investigation.
The details of how a club employee is involved are not clear, but there is talk that it has been taking place for several years, and may involve membership transfers, each of which involves a $12,000 fee.
The uncertainty is keeping the rumour mill in overdrive, and is making some club members very nervous.
Keppel Club has over 5,000 members and counts passionate golf players and senior citizens among them.
"We don't know how we will be affected or if we are affected at all, and if our names are under that so-called fictitious list," said an executive who has been a Keppel Club member for seven years.
The club's management has not issued a notice to inform the members about the ongoing probe, possibly because it is awaiting more clarity itself.
"If a notice is issued to members at this point, it will only lead to more questions, which the management of the club does not readily have (answers to) at this point. That's why they have been silent. Members will be notified appropriately in due course," said an insider.
It is also unclear if the "fake" membership accounts are linked in any way to existing memberships, but so far, club brokers contacted by BT say that they have not received any complaints.
"None of my clients have so far called me to complain that they paid for the membership, but have not received their cards or can't use the facilities. It's business as usual," said one broker.
Keppel Club's membership prices have fallen drastically to $14,000 on the back of the non-renewal of its lease, which expires in 2021. It used to change hands at more than double this price a decade ago.
The family-oriented club, deemed a "Singapore heritage", has yet to find an alternative site, and the prospect that it will be a "club with no real estate" has further kept a lid on the membership fees.
This article by The Business Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.