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Sweetlands Childcare director charged with unauthorised withdrawal of over S$170,000 from Child Development Accounts

SINGAPORE — One of two directors of the Sweetlands Childcare chain was hauled to court on Tuesday (June 30), some five years after investigations began over numerous unauthorised withdrawals from the Child Development Accounts (CDAs) of several children.

Sweetlands Childcare still runs 11 centres in the northern, north-eastern and western parts of Singapore. Its website stated that it has been in operation since 1987.

Sweetlands Childcare still runs 11 centres in the northern, north-eastern and western parts of Singapore. Its website stated that it has been in operation since 1987.

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SINGAPORE — One of two directors of the Sweetlands Childcare chain was hauled to court on Tuesday (June 30), some five years after investigations began over numerous unauthorised withdrawals from the Child Development Accounts (CDAs) of several children.

Chan Chew Shia, who turned 57 on Wednesday, was handed 198 charges under the Child Development Co-Savings Regulations.

The Singaporean is accused of withdrawing about S$171,000 from 34 accounts between August 2011 and May 2015, based on checks done by TODAY. The individual withdrawals ranged from S$200 to S$2,000.

The CDA is part of a government scheme to support parents financially in raising children. It is a special savings account for a child that is opened with banks and the money may be used at approved institutions to pay for childcare fees and medical expenses, for example. The Government also matches the money that parents put into the account up to a limit that ranges from S$6,000 to S$18,000.  

Court documents stated that Chan allegedly colluded with the trustees of the accounts involved in the case, some of whom had control over more than one child’s account.

It is not clear why she purportedly did this, or whether her husband Ho Boon Hong, also a director of Sweetlands, will face legal action as well.

She will return to court on Aug 4. If convicted of colluding with trustees of CDAs to make unauthorised withdrawals, she could be fined up to S$20,000 for each charge.

In October 2015, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced that Chan and Mr Ho would be stripped of their statuses as Approved Persons of Sweetlands Childcare.

Approved Persons are authorised persons of approved institutions registered with MSF, and are allowed to make deductions from CDAs for the payment of childcare and related fees.

They also must ensure that the withdrawals are authorised by parents and used for the child or sibling.

It was the first time that MSF revoked the Approved Person statuses of people running childcare centres.

An audit by the ministry had earlier found that the couple allegedly made unauthorised withdrawals from CDAs.

The revocation of their Approved Person statuses did not affect the centres’ licences because there were no issues in terms of the children’s safety or well-being, MSF said in 2015.

Right now, Sweetlands Childcare still runs 11 centres in the northern, north-eastern and western parts of Singapore. Its website stated that it has been in operation since 1987.

Ten of the 11 Sweetlands centres were managed by Chan, while the remaining centre was run by Mr Ho.

MSF declined TODAY's request for comments as criminal proceedings are ongoing.

Related topics

breach of trust Sweetlands Childcare Chan Chew Shia court crime

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