Sunday, April 27, 2008

Balkis auditors 'not consulted' - NST

SHAH ALAM: April 27, 2008

The auditors for the Selangor Wives Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) were not consulted before its past president dissolved the charity and transferred RM9.9 million to another association.

State executive councillor for tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the auditors had not met Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, wife of former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, on the matter.

"The auditors have informed us that no meeting was held with Balkis (or Zahrah) prior to the attempt to dissolve the charity and no advice given in respect of dissolving or transferring funds."

Wong said the auditors had also disclosed that Balkis' accounts for last year had yet to be finalised.

She said the auditors would be releasing a statement to the press next week on the issue which saw Balkis transferring the funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).

Wong said the matter was serious as it may amount not only to breach of trust but an example of flight of funds.

"We have written to the Registrar of Societies and are waiting for a response on Balkis' dissolution.

"We are confident that the ROS will agree that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) be held with new and old members and for an official handing over to Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut, the wife of Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim."

Wong believes the decision to dissolve the charity was made by a small group of people and was not unanimous.

"In the event the charity is dissolved by a unanimous decision, its funds can only be transferred to the state government or a similar charity with the same objectives, upon the approval of the Inland Revenue Board.

'Thus far, we believe there has been no approval from the IRB to transfer the assets."

She also disputed a statement by Zahrah that the charity was formed by wives of Barisan Nasional assemblymen.

Wong said Balkis was a charity which received tax exemption and, therefore, had to be apolitical.

"They cannot consider the funds as their own piggybank which they can move it around as they wish."

Wong said membership in Balkis was open not only to the wives of elected representatives but also to past and present Selangor women elected representatives and even women elected representatives who stay in the state.

On Dr Mohd Khir's contention that Zahrah was still Balkis president on March 11 as he was still the caretaker menteri besar then, she said the objective of a caretaker government was to manage and not remove funds.

Meanwhile, Abdul Khalid yesterday urged Zahrah to withdraw the application to dissolve the charity and to resolve the matter amicably.

He said Balkis was only a trustee of the money and did not have the right to transfer its funds.

"Even the Bar Council (in a published statement) is of the opinion that the move was a breach of trust."

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