4 fraud cases found among those acting for mentally incapacitated people
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) found four cases of fraud or financial mismanagement among 46 reports it received over the past three years alleging misconduct by those entrusted to act for mentally incapacitated individuals.
The OPG, a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) division which protects people who lack mental capacity, referred one case to the police.
Investigations are still ongoing, an MSF spokesman said in response to The Straits Times queries.
On Monday, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli revealed the figures in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mr Sitoh Yih Pin (Potong Pasir).
Mr Sitoh had asked for the number of investigations conducted by the OPG in the past three years, the type of violations it found and the actions taken against the errant donees or deputies.
An individual can appoint someone, known as a donee, to decide and act on his behalf if he loses his mental capacity through a legal document known as the lasting power of attorney (LPA).
If a person does not have an LPA when he becomes mentally incapacitated, his loved ones can apply to the courts to be appointed as his deputy to make decisions on his behalf.
In two of the four cases of fraud or financial mismanagement, the OPG instructed the donee or deputy to repay the money to the mentally incapacitated person.
The OPG also successfully applied to the court to revoke the deputyship in one case.
Mr Masagos said about half of the 46 reports involved misunderstandings or disputes between the loved ones of the person who made the LPA.
In these cases, the Public Guardian guided the parties to resolve their differences amicably or asked them to seek legal recourse.
Seven cases concerned donees or deputies who did not follow "good practices in managing the property and affairs" of the person they were acting on behalf of.
Hence, the OPG supervised these cases more closely to ensure they complied with their responsibilities as donees or deputies.
The remaining cases are still under investigation or there was not enough evidence of abuse, among other things.
The most well-known case of an LPA being revoked involved former China tour guide Yang Yin, who was jailed in 2016 for cheating a childless widow of $1.1 million.
Madam Chung Khin Chun, a 95-year-old who has assets estimated to be worth $40 million, named Yang as her donee in her LPA but she revoked it after his ploy came to light.