Woman ordered to return $500k to CPF Board | The New Paper

Woman ordered to return $500k to CPF Board

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A Singapore woman who received more than $500,000 from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) belonging to her late former husband has been ordered by the court to return the money after it ruled that his second marriage had cancelled out her status as his nominee.

But in a rare twist involving CPF monies, the High Court also ruled that the second wife - a Filipina who now lives in Canada - was ineligible to receive the money as she no longer practised the Islamic faith.

The court ordered the first wife, Madam Mamuah Naim, to pay the full sum of $575,735 to the administrator of the dead man's estate for distribution based on Islamic law.

In the High Court order filed last month, Justice Andrew Ang also ordered the law firm acting for Madam Mamuah to return the legal fees she paid from the CPF money.

Mr Samsudin Mohamed had nominated her as his beneficiary in 1985, but the couple, who had no children, were divorced in June 1989.

He married Ms Leonisa Acha Vallecera in Toronto 13 years later and they had a son.

Mr Samsudin died in December 2015, and his sister in Singapore, Madam Hamidah Hanif, was tasked with administering his estate.

Two weeks after his death, Madam Mamuah was notified by the CPF of her nomination. In January 2016, she withdrew the money from the CPF. By March 2016, there was just $117 left.

In court documents filed this August, Madam Mamuah said the CPF was not informed of her ex-husband's second marriage in Toronto until after the release of the money to her.


She added that Mr Samsudin did not revoke her status as his CPF nominee, and she did not know he had remarried as she did not keep in contact with him.

Madam Hamidah, represented by lawyer Soraya H. Ibrahim, argued that her late brother's subsequent marriage in Toronto served to revoke the nomination, based on the Central Provident Fund Act.

She said the true beneficiaries of the estate under the Islamic Law of Intestacy included the dead man's mother and five siblings.

The court, which ordered his widow and son in Canada to be added as defendants, held that his second marriage was valid in Canada, which revoked Madam Mamuah's CPF nominee status.

But it emerged that Ms Leonisa, who had married under Islamic law, subsequently renounced her Muslim faith.

The court requested an opinion on the impact of this from the legal (fatwa) committee of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, which held that the renunciation meant her marriage to Mr Samsudin was dissolved.

The committee explained this meant Ms Leonisa could not inherit her late husband's estate due to the difference in faith. It also meant her son was born out of wedlock under Islamic law with no inheritance rights.

Justice Ang ruled that Madam Mamuah's nomination was void and ordered her to return the full CPF sum to the estate administrator.

She was also ordered to pay $6,000 in legal costs to Madam Hamidah.