Man fined $18,000 for running illegal school
He opened an illegal school at the former Jurong site of Pioneer Primary School, raising more than $80,000 in fees.
When the Council of Private Education (CPE) stepped in and told him to register, he applied for a licence for the school, which was teaching at least 12 students the Indian national syllabus.
But even as the CPE processed his application, he continued to run classes, hiring teachers and collecting fees.
Yesterday, Natarajan Panneer Selvam, 40, was fined $18,000 for two offences - for helping an unregistered private education institution provide private education and for not refunding course fees when asked by the CPE.
His wife and co-manager of the school, Ms Panneerselvam Susanna, was issued a stern warning.
In all, Selvam, an Indian national with Singapore permanent residence, owed 12 pupils about $82,000, which he had collected from February to June 2012.
The court heard Selvam came up with the plan, created a website and advertising in the Singapore Press Holdings newspaper Tabla!
His school, Kalaibharathi International School (KIS), purportedly provided full-time studies under the Indian Central Board of Secondary Education curriculum.
In March 2012, the CPE investigated and called Selvam up for a meeting, at which he was asked to file an application.
The CPE told him not to advertise, collect fees, or conduct classes before the application was approved.
It found in June that year that classes had continued after a parent lodged a formal complaint.
The parent alleged that KIS classrooms were in bad condition and that no books or uniform were given.
The CPE later issued written directions for the Jurong East Avenue 1 school to refund the full fees to its students. But Selvam did not.
Yesterday, he asked that he pay $6,000 of his fine first, with subsequent instalments of $2,000 each. The court approved the request.
It is understood that if the students or their parents want their money back, they can take up civil action.
Selvam's application for the school was eventually rejected on Dec 13, 2012.
It is understood that he left the country and was wanted for other offences. A CPE spokesman said police alerted them to Selvam's return when he arrived at the airport.
For each offence, he could have been fined up to $10,000, jailed up to a year, or both.
The Council of Private Education (CPE) advises students interested in enrolling in a private institution to first check the CPE website at www.cpe.gov.sg for a list of registered education providers. They can also contact CPE at 6592-2108 or email@example.com for clarification.