The case is likely to set new standards for board members of charities in Singapore - specifying their legal duties in ensuring that public donations are properly utilised.
A decisive victory by the NKF against its former directors will also help to restore public confidence in the NKF. Which I think is what this case is really all about.
ST Jan 8, 2007
Landmark $12m NKF suit set to begin
Bid to recover money from Durai, ex-board members starts today
By Selina Lum
SOME 1 1/2 years after they resigned amid public scorn, former National Kidney Foundation (NKF) chief executive T.T. Durai and members of the old board will meet again today - not in the boardroom, but in court.
This time, they will have to give an account of themselves, as NKF's new management seeks to recover from Mr Durai and other board members at least $12 million paid out by the charity.
In what is the first suit in Singapore brought against directors of a charitable company, NKF has accused Mr Durai, former chairman Richard Yong, former treasurer Loo Say San and former board member Matilda Chua of breaching their duties towards the NKF as directors and fiduciaries.
The case will no doubt be watched with great interest, as NKF's lawyers intend to argue that Mr Durai and the board should be held to higher standards of care as custodians of public money.
The eight-week hearing before Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon is likely to throw up new twists and revelations about Mr Durai and the former directors, and the public is likely to be gripped again, as it was when sensational revelations came to light about the charity in July 2005.
With eight sets of lawyers representing nine parties and tens of thousands of pages of documents involved, it is expected to be a drawn-out and fiercely contested case.
NKF's claims include: $2 million paid to Mr Durai in salaries and benefits; $4 million in lost donations, $5 million paid to companies owned by Mr Pharis Aboobacker, a friend of Mr Durai; and $550,000 in legal costs incurred when the old NKF sued Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for defamation.