Ex-temple president gets $20,000 fine

Sri Siva Krishna Temple in Marsiling Rise.

SINGAPORE - The former president of the Sri Siva Krishna Temple was fined $20,000 on Tuesday after he admitted to providing an accounting firm with forged payment vouchers.

Arumugam Sivalingam, 79, managed the temple's accounts on his own but his lawyer told a district court that he had organised things "haphazardly".

In late 2008, the temple hired Mubarak Salim & Co. When its auditor wanted to include a qualification in the financial statement that the large cash-in-hand balance of $19,874 at the end of 2007 was far too high, Arumugam produced three payment vouchers reducing this amount to $2,374.

These showed the temple had purportedly spent a further $17,500 in 2007 on sculpturing works that had not been reflected in the books.

Arumugam did this so that the audited financial statement would not include any qualifications. He pleaded guilty last month to using the forged payment vouchers.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin S. Thevar had asked for him to be given a stiff fine as the temple was "an institution that received donations from the public and the amount involved was substantial".

Defence counsel Subhas Anandan said his client was the president of the temple in Marsiling from 1986 until stepping down in May 2010.

He also said: "With only Secondary 4 education and no accounting knowledge, he had managed the temple's funds to the best of his abilities. However, things were organised haphazardly and this made it hard for him to keep track of things."

Mr Anandan also pointed out that Arumugam did not benefit from the forgery and the temple did not suffer any financial loss.

Arumugam, who now works as a security officer for a monthly salary of $1,400, could have been jailed for up to four years for submitting forged payment vouchers in addition to being fined.

khush@sph.com.sg

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