Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Governance of 7 religious groups to come under scrutiny

by Theresa Tan (ST, 23 Oct 2007)

They have been picked for the Commissioner of Charities' first "governance review".

FIVE christian groups and two temples, all with annual incomes of over $10 million, have been ordered to open their doors and their books to auditors from the Commissioner of Charities (COC).

The seven are: City Harvest Church, Campus Crusade Asia, Faith Community Baptist Church, New Creation Church, Trinity Christian Centre, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery and Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple.

The seven religious groups have been picked for the COC's first "governance review" as they earn the most among the charities under the commissioner's direct purview.

The review is part of an on-going effort to regularly assess and improve the way charities are run, said the COC's office on Tuesday.

While similar reviews on secular charities are not uncommon, this is the first time the COC is focussing attention on religious groups.

Auditors from Ernst & Young Associates and Deloitte and Touche Financial Advisory Services have been hired by the COC to look into three areas:
- financial and internal control policies and procedures
- corporate governance practices and standards
- how the charities comply with laws such as the Charities Act

Five of these groups interviewed by The Straits Times on Tuesday welcomed the review. The other two did not return calls.

See related articles:
4 areas of improvement (ST, 11 Sep 08)
5 religious groups got $130m last year (ST, 29 Oct 07)

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