Ex-Muis officer accused of misappropriating more than $68k
A former Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) employee, who allegedly cheated Temasek Foundation International of nearly $785,000, was charged on Friday with criminal breach of trust involving $68,629.
It was not mentioned in court if the $68,629 was part of the larger amount.
Razak Mohamed Lazim, 56, is now a director and shareholder at Irsyad Trust Limited (ITL) which states on its website: “We are a one-stop provider to assist partners in establishing 21st-century schools.”
On or around Feb 7, 2020, Razak, who used to be a senior director for madrasahs at Muis, allegedly misappropriated the $68,629 which printing firm Key-Orient Lamitec had transferred to ITL.
According to court documents, the cash was meant for a payment to Islamic religious school Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah in Braddell Road as royalty fees.
On Friday, a police prosecutor told the court that investigations into the case have not completed, and it is not known for now if more charges will be tendered in the future.
Razak is represented by lawyer Andre Jumabhoy and his bail has been set at $30,000. The case has been adjourned to April 21.
In a statement in February 2023, a spokesman for Muis said: “Muis takes such issues very seriously and continually takes steps to strengthen governance in our religious institutions... Muis is unable to comment further as the matter is now before the courts.”
If convicted of criminal breach of trust, Razak can be jailed for up to 20 years and fined.
He now faces eight charges in all after he was handed two cheating charges and five charges under the Computer Misuse Act in February 2023.
Razak allegedly cheated non-profit philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation International on or around Feb 12, 2018.
He is said to be linked to an ITL grant proposal involving Islamic schools in Indonesia which was submitted to the foundation.
Razak is accused of falsely portraying that ITL was affiliated with Madrasah Irsyad.
As a result, he is alleged to have dishonestly induced Temasek Foundation International to deliver $448,150 to ITL between Dec 7, 2018, and Sept 7, 2020.
By using a similar method for another grant proposal involving Islamic schools in the Philippines, he allegedly duped the foundation into giving $336,750 to ITL between Sept 6, 2019, and Sept 7, 2020.
Court documents do not state what happened to the monies.
Among other things, Razak is also accused of securing access to Madrasah Irsyad’s e-mail server without authority in 2019.
The case made headlines in June 2021 when Madrasah Irsyad filed a police report after discovering that its confidential files were leaked in an e-mail to unauthorised third parties.
Internal investigations revealed that a staff member, who was not named, had downloaded numerous confidential documents from the server without authorisation.
In a statement issued at that time, Muis said the staff member had resigned. It also said that the stolen documents were linked to a review of the madrasah’s financial transactions.
The review was mentioned in a parliamentary reply on April 5, 2021, by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who was responding to Mr Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC) of the Workers’ Party.
He had asked, among other things, for details on any links between Madrasah Irsyad and ITL.
Mr Masagos answered then that ITL was established as a separate company in 2006 by the madrasah’s management committee. ITL was then known as Irsyad Foundation Limited.
In 2014, Madrasah Irsyad’s management moved the international side of its fund-raising efforts to ITL.
But after a review, the school decided to de-prioritise its international projects.
The school and ITL later agreed they would no longer be affiliated with each other. This meant that ITL could no longer use the school’s branding for its international projects.