Ren Ci under probe after MOH found financial irregularities
SINGAPORE: One of Singapore's biggest health charities is being probed for possible financial irregularities.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it is conducting an inquiry into Ren Ci Hospital & Medicare Centre under Section 8 of the Charities Act.
This is after a review showed that there were irregularities in financial transactions involving Ren Ci and certain external organisations.
MOH added that Ren Ci's past transactions also disclosed other gaps in corporate governance and internal controls.
MOH is conducting the probe as it is the administrator of the health sector under the Charities Act.
MOH said Ren Ci's Institution of a Public Character (IPC) status expires on 27 November this year.
In view of the ongoing inquiry, which will take about three months, the IPC status will not be renewed for the time being.
So, donations made by the public to Ren Ci after 27 November will not be tax-deductible.
Pending the outcome of the inquiry, MOH will evaluate when Ren Ci can apply to reinstate its IPC status.
But MOH will continue to subsidise Ren Ci's patient care services so that patients will continue to receive their medical treatments.
MOH added that it recognises the good work of Ren Ci's staff.
It is also confident that the Ren Ci Board will ensure that professional standards and services remain intact and the day-to-day operations in Ren Ci carry on undisrupted.
The Ren Ci's Board of Management Committee has assured to do this and it also promised to cooperate fully with MOH in the inquiry.
It added that it has "a culture of strong corporate governance and transparency", and when complaints are made, they will be fully investigated.
MOH will announce the findings after the inquiry is completed and will take appropriate measures if there are any breaches.
In July 2006, MOH appointed Ernst & Young Associates to conduct a general review of 12 large IPCs, including Ren Ci.
The review was completed in February this year. It covered areas such as corporate governance structures, internal controls, and compliance with IPC regulations.
Following the review, the individual IPCs were asked to progressively put in place the recommended improvement measures.
For Ren Ci, the MOH recommended that it separates the roles of its chairman and CEO, which until very recently was held by Venerable Shi Ming Yi.
In September, the chairman of Ho Bee Group, Mr Chua Thian Poh (previously a Ren Ci Board member) took over as Ren Ci's chairman while Venerable Shi remains as its CEO.
When Channel NewsAsia visited Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre at Buangkok View on Wednesday evening, auditors from Ernst & Young Associates were carting files into the office.
Ren Ci is believed to be the third largest health charity in Singapore, after the National Kidney Foundation and SingHealth Endowment Fund.
In the 2004 financial year, Ren Ci reported an income of S$22.7million while NKF had S$108.7m and SingHealth $41.3m.
In May this year, the Ren Ci Charity Show raised $7.2m. - CNA/ir