Singapore: The lawyers for the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) have called the attempt to discredit the accountants in the high profile case as “without merit.”
According to AHTC’s lawyers, these charges against the accountants had no merit.
Furthermore, The New Paper reports that the lawyers said: “Instead, they focus on a catalogue of technical points which do nothing but draw more attention to the fact that they abused their office.”
The statements above were included in the closing replies which were over 50 pages long submitted by the lawyers who represent both AHTC and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council (PRPTC) on Friday, March 1.
The defence lawyers made their closing arguments in January and submitted their closing replies on March 1 as well.
The AHTC trial ran for 17 days last October and was closely followed by many. It involves a lawsuit filed against five town councillors for the Workers’ Party (WP), which include the former and current heads of the party, Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim respectively, as well as Pritam Singh, the WP’s secretary-general.
PRPTC’s lawsuit is the town council’s endeavor to recoup its losses from 2013 to 2015 when AHTC managed the Punggol East constituency.
Lawyers for the defense claimed that PwC partner Goh Thien Phong and KPMG executive director Owen Hawkes were not independent experts.
Shook Lin & Bok, lawyers for AHTC, claimed that Ms Lim, Mr Low and, or possibly, or, Mr Singh had instructed AHTC to appoint KPMG, since the Court of Appeal had in March 2016 ordered them to procure an accountant to examine the books.
According to Shook Lin & Bok, “This exposes the present allegations of partisanship on Mr Hawkes’ part as a mere afterthought, raised as an unjustifiable attempt to taint the credibility of his evidence and the KPMG Report.”
On its part, PPRTC claimed that there is no proof that it had interfered with the work of Mr Goh, though this had not been brought up.
Davinder Singh Chambers represented PPRTC.
It is the claim of the lawyers for AHTC that defendants are fiduciary trustees, instead of being merely custodians responsible for public funds.
The lawyers added that what AHTC could have done is compel the town council’s managing agent during the time it was managed by the People’s Action Party (PAP), to take over Hougang ward at the same rates, as was stipulated in the contract.
They also refuted the claim of the defendants that they had acted in good faith.
The lawyers said that Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim “acted with an ulterior motive and/or recklessly and/or were wilfully blind to the consequences… A town councillor who does not breach their fiduciary duties to AHTC as SL and LTK should not have anything to fear.”
Justice Kannan Ramesh will give his final ruling after April 9 or 10 when oral submissions are submitted.
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