AHTC appoints KPMG to audit its books

AHTC appoints KPMG to audit its books
TODAY file photo
Published: 6:33 PM, March 1, 2016
Updated: 9:49 PM, March 1, 2016

SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) has appointed a team of accountants from KPMG to go through its books, as previously ordered by the High Court.

The town council was told to pick from among the Big Four accounting firms: KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It was told to do so after the credentials of its earlier three choices, who were supposed to find remedies to compliance and governance issues that had been flagged by the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO), were questioned.

AHTC had been given until Feb 5 to make its appointment but said last month it needed more time.

In a statement on Tuesday (March 1), AHTC chairman Pritam Singh said it believes KPMG “is the most suitable firm and is capable of performing an independent and objective review”. The firm is expected to put up its first monthly report by April 15.

Previously, AHTC had indicated its reluctance to pick PwC and Deloitte because the former was involved in the AGO report that flagged major lapses in the town council’s practices, while one of Deloitte’s partners is involved in grassroots work and had given a media interview in his professional capacity on AHTC’s audited accounts.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said it has informed AHTC that it has “in-principle no objection” to the appointment of KPMG as the town council’s accountants since “conflict disclosures have been made clear to and appropriate safeguards have been accepted by the relevant parties involved”.

The HDB noted in a statement that the business proposal submitted by AHTC showed KPMG had made conflict disclosures and proposed safeguards to the town council. For instance, KPMG’s Managing Partner, Mr Tham Sai Choy, is also a member of the HDB Board. Mr Tham has since declared his interest to the HDB Board and has recused himself from any deliberation and decision-making relating to AHTC, said the HDB.

The HDB said that in response to its requests for clarifications, AHTC acknowledged and confirmed that KPMG disclosed areas of potential conflict of interest to AHTC. The town council also confirmed that KPMG and AHTC agreed on safeguards to ensure that the objectivity of KPMG’s engagement is not threatened by conflicts of interest, and that the safeguards are, in AHTC’s view, adequate.

“We look forward to AHTC giving its fullest cooperation to its accountants, including full and unimpeded access to the relevant records and personnel, so that the tasks ordered by the CA (Court of Appeal) can be completed expeditiously.” said the HDB.