SINGAPORE — A former director of Faith Educare childcare centres and two of her female employees were charged on Wednesday (17 March) for conspiring to cheat the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) of some $4,800 in subsidies.
Josephine Tan Poh Choo, 53, the former director; Arulanadam Rajeswary, 53; and Fatimah Bivee Mohd Shariff, 42, are alleged to have conspired to deceive ECDA into disbursing subsidies for eight children under the Child Care Subsidies Scheme.
The children either had not started on their enrolment during the months for which subsidies were claimed, or did not attend Faith Educare centres at all. Faith Educare is now defunct.
Tan and Arulanadam were each handed eight counts of cheating, while Fatimah faces four counts of cheating. All will return to court on 14 April for further mentions of their cases.
The women allegedly submitted 16 subsidy claims to ECDA, which falsely confirmed these children’s attendance between January and August 2016, resulting in wrongful payouts amounting to $4,800, according to a Singapore Police Force press release.
The Child Care Subsidies Scheme helps to defray preschool expenses for Singaporean children through the payment of subsidies to ECDA-licensed childcare centres in Singapore.
In response to the charges, ECDA said that it detected irregularities in Faith Educare’s subsidy claims in August 2016 and referred the matter to the police. The monies involved in the wrongful subsidy claims made from January to August 2016 have since been fully recovered.
ECDA, an agency under the Ministry of Social and Family Development, added that there are processes and checks in place for the disbursement of preschool subsidies. It also maintains close oversight of preschools’ use of government subsidies, which includes conducting regular audits.
If convicted, the three women face an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, or a fine, or both.
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