SINGAPORE: Measures to strengthen internal controls and governance have been put in place at the Tembusu Home for the destitute after a former employee allegedly cheated seven elderly residents of more than S$252,000, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Monday (Feb 13).
The home's former assistant superintendent, Chiang Zhao Xiang, was charged earlier on Monday with one count of criminal breach of trust and two counts of cheating.
Chiang had been entrusted with the bank accounts of the elderly residents, and misappropriated the money via ATM withdrawals and transfers between May 2014 and January 2015.
In a statement, MSF said it takes a serious view of the incident.
The ministry added that after the discovery of the unauthorised withdrawals, it issued a letter of warning on Mar 6, 2015, to Sathya Sai Social Service (4S) - the Voluntary Welfare Organisation that runs Tembusu Home - and ordered it to "implement measures to strengthen safekeeping of residents’ properties".
The measures put in place are:
- Regular savings passbook checks for all residents on top of existing checks made after routine withdrawals;
- Strengthening administration and processes regarding staff access to residents’ properties;
- Implementing a system to allow whistle-blowing by staff and residents of the home
MSF said control measures have similarly been tightened for the other welfare homes run by 4S. "MSF conducted checks on all the welfare homes and verified that there were no other occurrences of a similar nature," said the statement.
"Any misconduct that compromises the welfare and interest of the residents in the welfare homes will not be tolerated. MSF will report any suspected unlawful activities to the police," it added.
The ministry said it will continue to monitor and assess Tembusu Home and other welfare homes to ensure high standards of care and governance. It also noted that 4S has since recovered the full sum of money taken by Chiang and returned them to the affected residents.