Keppel Club allays concerns of members amid fraud probe

Keppel Club allays concerns of members amid fraud probe
Keppel Club

THE Keppel Club yesterday allayed concerns about the validity of memberships acquired during the tenure of an employee currently being probed for membership fraud, and said all members continued to enjoy full privileges.

A spokesman told The Straits Times that memberships would be honoured while the matter was being looked into, and said further comment could not be made as investigations were ongoing.

It is understood that a similar message was conveyed at the club's annual general meeting on Wednesday in response to members' queries about the status of memberships acquired during that period. They were urged to be patient while investigations are being carried out.

About $37 million is said to have been lost in an alleged membership fraud at the club, as a result of suspicious transfers that led to applicants paying monies to someone else other than the transferors or the club, according to a probe report. As of last month, irregularities were detected in 1,340 membership transfers spanning a decade from 2004. Some purported transferors were fictitious or no longer members.

A 65-year-old golfer who acquired his membership during the affected period said the club would be "shooting itself in the foot" if memberships were made invalid as these members would have paid monthly fees.

A 67-year-old woman who supervised the membership department was sacked last October following the discovery and is now the subject of a police investigation and High Court civil suit.

The short, slightly plump woman declined to comment when approached by The Straits Times yesterday, saying the matter was before the court.

The woman is being sued with six other defendants for alleged involvement in the scam.

The second defendant, a club member since 1989, is alleged to have been a key accomplice, and has a daughter who is also allegedly implicated. Both are said to have received lump sum payments from numerous applicants in suspicious transfers, and allowed their names to be used as the transferor in some cases.

The duo are also alleged to have helped cover up the fraud when it was discovered by the club.

Two businesses selling and buying club memberships are alleged to have made numerous payments to the duo in relation to various suspicious transfers. They are also accused of having wrongfully received money from transfer applicants, who made payments on the instructions of the 67-year-old woman.

The remaining two being sued are said to be wrongful beneficiaries of the fraud.

This article was first published on April 25, 2015.
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