By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia
SINGAPORE : The National Kidney Foundation's former chief executive TT Durai has filed his defence for the civil suit brought against him by the new NKF board, denying most of the claims made against him.
He also denied that the executive committee had delegated absolute power to him.
The new NKF management has alleged that Durai engineered a structure within the organisation that subverted proper checks and balances which should have acted to restrain excesses.
But in his 40-page defence, Durai claimed he had kept the executive committee informed of all that was going on in the NKF.
He said that the committee had free access to all records and could query anything that was being reported and decide on any proposals put forward.
On his pay, Durai denied that his bonuses depended upon the success of fund raising, saying this factor was only one consideration.
He claimed all salary increases, bonuses, overtime payments and unutilised leave compensation paid to him were decided by the exco.
He added that NKF's policy of not disclosing the salaries of its employees was not to mislead the public or conceal any improper benefits.
The new NKF alleged that Durai inflated the monthly treatment costs of patients and misrepresented patient numbers to gain public sympathy and increase donations.
Durai claimed, in his defence, that he was never involved in the computation of treatment costs of dialysis patients and that patient numbers were given to him by the various departments, which obtained the information from external administrators of programmes funded by NKF.
The old NKF had also awarded contracts worth over S$5 million to Protonweb Solutions and Forte Systems, both owned by Pharis Aboobacker.
While Durai admitted that Aboobacker is a friend, he claimed he took no part in NKF's evaluation to award an IT contract to Forte Systems.
He added that the executive committee had awarded the call-centre project to Protonweb Solutions because it was the cheapest option.
The new NKF said that both companies were paid despite Forte not delivering the software on time and Protonweb Solutions not fulfilling the contract terms fully.
Durai also denied allegations that former chairman Richard Yong and former treasurer Loo Say San were his associates, and acted on his instructions.
Durai alleged it was Dr Khoo Oon Teik, who founded the NKF in 1969, who invited Yong to become a member of the exco.
As for former director Matilda Chua, Durai claimed it was "not unusual to make ex-gratia payments to departing staff".
Chua had received generous pay performance bonuses after she declared her intention to resign.
Her monthly salary was increased to S$12,500 in June 2000, and backdated to April 2000, without any exco approval.
Durai said this was because of her contributions in running the charity shows, and he claimed that the person who took over her position was paid even more.
As for expensive business trips, Durai said he flew first class as the tickets were available at a price not exceeding business class fares, and it was NKF policy that senior personnel were allowed to purchase such tickets.
Four pages in the defence statement were also spent documenting Durai's contribution to NKF, which included setting up 21 dialysis centres and three prevention centres, tying up with top medical institutions to improve the quality of medical treatment, helping the Health Ministry in setting up an emergency dialysis centre during the SARS crisis, and spearheading a five-year multi-organ donation campaign.
In their defence, Yong, Loo, and Chua claimed Durai was singularly responsible for the NKF's day-to-day operations.
The three are also being sued by the new NKF, which is seeking more than S$12 million in damages. - CNA /ct
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