Tue, Jul 15, 2008
The Straits Times
Ren Ci head Venerable Ming Yi charged with 10 counts

By Elena Chong

THE long-time head of Ren Ci Hospital was charged in court on Tuesday with 10 counts, including forgery, misappropriation of funds and conspiracy to give false information to the Commissioner of Charities.

Goh Kah Heng alias Shi Ming Yi, 46, was charged, along with his personal assistant Raymond Yeung Chi Hang, 33, who faces two counts, and Phua Seow Hwa, 47, who faces one charge.

Phua is a manager of Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre's technical resource centre.

A fourth man, Pang Leong Chuan, 27, was charged with having obscene videos and films without valid certificates at Cornwall Gardens, where the monastery staff live, and his Tampines home in February.

Last November, the Health Ministry appointed accountancy firm Ernst & Young to conduct a three-month inquiry into 'some possible irregularities in certain financial transactions' at Ren Ci.

As a result of the probe, Ren Ci lost the right to grant its supporters tax exemption for donations.

Goh, the abbot of Fu Hai Ch'an Monastery and several temples in Malaysia and Hongkong, has since stepped down from all his positions.

He allegedly committed forgery by asking a staff to add false information into a Ren Ci management committee meeting minute in 2001.

Four charges under the Charities Act state that he gave misleading or false information to the Commissioner of Charities between 1998 and last year.

He is also accused of misappropriating $350,000 of Ren Ci's funds in 2004 and last year.

He allegedly conspired with Yeung to falsify a paper belonging to Ren Ci by stating that a $50,000 loan was made by Ren Ci to Mandala Buddhist Cultural Centre in 2004.

The two are said to have schemed to provide false information to the Commissioner over the delivery of two statues worth $16,000 to Mandala early this year.

Goh allegedly conspired with Phua to provide false information to the Commissioner, stating in a letter signed by one Patrick Tay that $300,000 out of a $600,000 purported donation to the hospital was a friendly loan to Goh.

All four have lawyers to represent them. Goh is out on $200,000 bail while Yeung is released on $80,000 bail.

All the cases have been fixed for pre-trial hearings.

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