Buddhist charity hospital head arrested in Singapore

Other News Materials 15 July 2008 05:16 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The head of Ren Ci Hospital and a prominent South-East Asian Buddhist figure was arrested after a five-month probe into questionable loans made by the facility, news reports said on Tuesday.

Ren Ci is the second-largest charity under the health ministry, with reserves of about 33.5 million Singapore dollars (25 million US dollars), the Straits Times said.

Venerable Ming Yi, a 45-year-old abbot at a Geyland monastery as well as several temples in Malaysia and Hong Kong, has stepped down from all his positions at the hospital.

The ministry found "possible irregularities"" in Ren Ci's books after an audit.

With Ren Ci's arrest on Monday, both of the former chiefs of Singapore's two biggest charities, Ren Ci and the National Kidney Foundation, have been implicated in financial irregularities in recent years.

While Venerable Ming Yi has surrendered his passport to police, he was told he would be allowed to travel subject to conditions, the newspaper said.

At the heart of the issue were questionable loans made by the hospital, amounting to several million dollars. Some of the loans were allegedly given to companies with links to the Venerable Ming Yi.

He has lost the right to grant Ren Ci supporters tax exemptions for donations.

Venerable Ming Yi informed Ren Ci's board that he was stepping down from all his positions, including his present post as honorary chief executive, "pending the resolution of the current investigations."

He has been the chief of the charity, which takes in chronically sick patients, since its inception in 1995.