AHTC trial: WP leaders say AHTC lawyers suing them did not rebut key evidence

Next up, oral arguments in the High Court.

Sulaiman Daud | March 05, 2019, 11:08 AM

Did you think that the Aljunied Hougang Town Council-Pasir Ris Punggol Town Council (AHTC-PRPTC) trial was over?

You've got another think coming.

On March 4, Workers' Party (WP) Secretary-General Pritam Singh, who is one of the case's defendants, shared a post that detailed arguments that the independent panel suing them has not responded to in the course of the case.

The post on their In Good Faith case blog summarised their latest round of reply submissions, as prepared by their lawyers at Tan, Rajah & Cheah.

Key evidence not rebutted

According to Pritam's team of defendants and their lawyers, the plaintiffs have to prove the following in order to succeed:

  • The appointment of FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) was improper.
  • The appointment of third party contractors was improper, and
  • The respective payments were made to them.

They said the plaintiffs have not done so, and provided "key evidence" that they believe have not been rebutted in the course of the trial, which concluded on Oct. 30 last year.

"Crucial" witness not called

Examples of "key evidence" remaining "unrebutted" include:

  • Aljunied Town Council's incumbent managing agent, CPG Facilities Management Pte Ltd, asked to be released after the WP won Aljunied GRC;
  • FMSS/FMSI (FM Solutions and Integrated Services) and third-party subcontractors did in fact carry out the services for which they were contracted;
  • The appointments and payments were done in accordance with the processes of the Town Council.

According to Channel NewsAsia, lawyers for FMSS agreed that key evidence was not rebutted, and said that the plaintiffs did not call "crucial" witnesses like Jeffrey Chua, CPG's managing director.

During the AHTC trial, it was revealed that Chua held shares in CPG's parent company, which supposedly presented a conflict of interest because he also happened to hold the post of Secretary at Aljunied Town Council at the time.

Closing submissions in January

In their closing submissions filed on Jan. 18, 2019, lawyers from Shook Lin & Bok, who represent the AHTC panel, argued that the defendants did not act in good faith.

They also highlighted the alleged conflicts of interest involving FMSS, as well as the "surge in profits" the company received after they were appointed Managing Agent of AHTC.

Counsel for the defence, on the other hand, argued in their closing submissions filed on the same day that the defendants had acted in good faith and owed only statutory duties to the Town Council, not a fiduciary obligation.

The case in brief

AHTC's lawsuit was initiated by an independent panel that had been appointed to help AHTC recover allegedly improper payments.

The panel included senior counsels Philip Jeyaretnam, N. Sreenivasan and KPMG managing partner Ong Pang Thye.

AHTC is suing eight defendants, chief of whom being WP leaders Pritam, Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim, over alleged improper payments involving millions of dollars.

They are also accused of breaching their fiduciary duties in the appointment of FMSS as their managing agent.

Both sides will present their final oral arguments in the High Court on April 9 and 10.

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Top photo by Sulaiman Daud