A Social Service Office (SSO) officer was on Wednesday (Aug 3) charged for misappropriating funds meant for social assistance up to a total of S$343,480. The alleged misappropriation was discovered by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) about 2 years ago, on 14 Aug 2014. But it made public the details of the case only now, after Court documents showed that the officer faced a total of 126 charges.
In a press release MSF said that its SSO officer, which it identified as Chia Kwang Hwee, was charged under the Penal Code, Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
The Ministry said that it was alerted to the possible misappropriation of funds on 14 August 2014, when a ComCare beneficiary complained that he had not received his financial assistance payments.
Upon investigation, the MSF found information suggesting that the SSO officer from its Geylang Serai office could have misappropriated funds meant for financial assistance payments. On 15 August 2014, MSF filed a Police report. In its statement MSF said that it fully cooperated with the Police investigation on the matter and also suspended the officer from his duties from the time the Police report was filed.
MSF said that it further assured all affected families that their financial assistance they needed were not affected by the case.
The Ministry’s internal auditor has conducted checks on all the SSOs’ payment records, and confirmed that there were no other occurrences of a similar nature. It also reviewed and strengthened systems, processes and controls at all the SSOs.
MSF’s press statement is here: http://bit.ly/2aidzsD.
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, the Minister for Social and Family Development, talking about the case in his Facebook acknowledged that his Ministry needs to ensure accountability to the public on the case, but said that it has achieved this by thoroughly reviewing and strengthening his Ministry’s controls at the SSOs.
The Minister said that control measures can only go so far, and that it is ultimately his Ministry’s values that must guide it in all its actions to serve Singapore and Singaporeans with integrity and compassion.
He added that his “Ministry will not condone or tolerate any conduct that undermines the integrity of our social assistance system and interest of our beneficiaries.”