Apparently, part of the funds that Ren Ci has goes out to interest-free loans to companies – one of which is registered under the Venerable Ming Yi, who is also the honorary CEO of Ren Ci. Some people are also surprised that Ren Ci is lending money from it’s coffers.

This investigation ensued from an earlier general review and many are sombre at the news of yet another charity under probe since the National Kidney Foundation scandal of 2005 triggered tighter controls on corporate governance. The Institute of Public Character (IPC) status will also not be renew after it’s expiry on the 27th November 2007, until all investigations have completed – which could take up to 3 months, during which, donations made to Ren Ci will no longer be tax exempt.

MANDALA Buddhist Cultural Centre, a company selling Buddhist artefacts, has emerged as one of the external organisations said to have received interest-free loans from Ren Ci Hospital & Medicare Centre.

Ren Ci is being investigated by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for financial irregularities which were found during a general review, said the ministry in a statement released on Wednesday.

Mandala, whose registered owners are Mr We Beng Seng and Ren Ci honorary CEO Vnerable Ming Yi, operated from a shop unit in the Fu Lu Shou Complex in Rochor Road.

When contacted on Friday, Mr We said that Mandala was set up in 1996 with $200,000 to $300,000 from Ren Ci. Profits from the business, which was run out of a Balestier address before it moved to Rochor Road in 1997, were intended to be ploughed back to Ren Ci.

But business was poor and Mandala gave up its two shop units three years ago and took a small counter at Foo Hai Ch’an Monastery in Geylang East, of which Venerable Ming Yi is abbot.

Asked about loan, Mr We said: ‘It hasn’t been returned yet. Unfortunately, the shop is not making any profit.’ It is still running but business is ‘not very good’, he added.

The Straits Times understands that Ren Ci may have been making interest-free loans totalling millions of dollars to various companies from as far back as 1996. There appear to be discrepancies – of several hundred thousand dollars in some cases – between what the charity recorded it lent, and what the companies involved recorded as having borrowed.

Venerable Ming Yi had told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao on Wednesday that the money was mostly recovered, with only $200,000 to $300,000 still due.

A check showed that Venerable Ming Yi is the registered owner of two businesses, Mandala and Ch’an Yun Buddhist Handicrafts & Trading. He is also shareholder of Savoury Restaurant, Bodhicherie Vegeatarian Food and Semco Design Communications Pte Ltd.

Ren Ci, which has 120 nursing home patients and 324 chronic sick patients, is holding a fund-raising Qian Shou (Thousand Hand) Guanyin Charity Concert next weekend, from Nov 17 to 18.

The government inquiry is expected to take about three months. In the meantime, Ren Ci’s Institution of Public Character (IPC) status would not be renewed when it expires on Nov 27. This means that donations made to Ren Ci by members of the public after then will not be tax-deductible.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 9th November 2007



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