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'Serious irregularity' as NParks officer created backdated documents for audit

The Ministry of National Development says it will take appropriate disciplinary action against National Parks Board officer involved in documentation for Gardens by the Bay.

SINGAPORE: The Auditor-General's Office (AGO) listed eight lapses that did not fall under the other broad categories outlined in its report for the Financial Year 2013/14 issued on Thursday (July 15).

These included weaknesses in controls for the processing of housing allowance payments by the Ministry of Education; contracts made outside Singapore not being signed by authorised signatories, in the case of the Foreign Affairs Ministry; and weak controls over seized items by the Health Sciences Authority.

NPARKS: "A SERIOUS IRREGULARITY"

During the audit of the National Parks Board's development of the Gardens by the Bay, the AGO noted that certain documents may have been created and backdated to give the impression that they existed when the transactions took place - a "serious irregularity", said the Auditor-General.

An internal inquiry by the Ministry of National Development confirmed that an NParks officer had created and backdated 16 letters, purportedly issued by NParks to its suppliers, to satisfy AGO queries. The same officer also arranged for the suppliers to issue a further 11 backdated letters - five of which were created by the officer on their behalf.

The ministry concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the integrity of the system of contract variations and payments had been compromised for contracts handled by the officer. The officer told the MND that he had done so "to regularise gaps in the documentation of communications with the suppliers for completeness of record".

However, the AGO said it "does not view these as merely acts to regularise gaps in documentation", while MND will be taking appropriate disciplinary action against the officer.

NParks said it takes a "serious view of the matter", and revealed that the officer has been counselled and issued a warning letter. 

"There will be an adverse input in his performance appraisal and consequent downgrading of performance grade this year and an attendant reduction in any performance bonus otherwise payable. There will also be an impact on his promotion prospects," a spokesperson said.

 SCDF: OFFICIAL CASH CARDS USED ON PERSONAL TRIPS

Another lapse cited by the AGO was the misuse of funds stored in cash cards issued to Singapore Civil Defence Force officers, for use in investigation vehicles on official trips.

Out of 78 transactions checked, in 62 instances amounting to S$62, the cash cards were used to pay for car park charges that were not incurred for official trips. In another 19 instances, cash card statements did not reflect all transactions that had taken place, and supporting details for some transactions were missing.

In response, the SCDF said that officers have to drive investigation vehicles wherever they go to ensure prompt response to emergencies; the cash cards were thus used during meal times and for personal errands. A total of S$3,700 was recovered from the officers involved, who have been counselled.

Official cash cards are no longer issued, the SCDF said.

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