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Post by Darkmen on Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:50 am

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More than 100 financial consultants have filed a joint complaint to the CPF Board against their employer NTUC Income. NTUC Income has allegedly over-deducted from their income to pay into their CPF over many years. These over-deductions were not submitted to CPF Board but kept by NTUC Income which has not returned the bulk of these over-deductions to the financial consultants. This practice went on for many years in NTUC Income, according to the financial consultants TR Emeritus (TRE) spoke to.

A letter from CPF Board (shown to TRE by the financial consultants) acknowledges that a complaint was formally lodged with CPF Board on 14 September 2012 [Link]. Over 100 signatures accompanied the complaint:
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n their collective letter to CPF Board, the financial consultants said that they had been chasing their union representatives to “expedite resolving many long outstanding issues” with the management of which one “big item” is the “employee’s portion of CPF over-deducted upfront from our basic remuneration, retained by our employer but was not being deposited into our CPF accounts as was the original intent and purpose”.

They submitted the NTUC Income CEO’s circular dated 26 April 2012 to CPF Board as evidence. The circular was sent by the CEO to all the financial consultants, announcing several matters including the refund of employee’s portion of CPF, but only for 2 years – 2010 and 2011. This is despite the over-deductions which NTUC Income had made for more than 20 years. In the circular, the CEO called the 2-year refund a “gesture of goodwill”:[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The financial consultants want all the over-deductions over the years to be refunded and not just for the 2 years.

One financial consultant told TRE, “We just want to get back what rightfully belongs to us. It’s been a year since we last filed the formal complaint with CPF Board which have yet to resolve this issue for us.”

Currently, 141 of NTUC Income’s financial consultants [Link] are embroiled in a High Court suit with their own union, the Singapore Insurance Employees’ Union (SIEU). 3 of them, in their capacity as elected union branch representatives, have filed a High Court application against SIEU for failing to secure complete representation of the interest and welfare, as well as failing to look after the economic or social status, of its members (‘Union members go to court when union fails to represent their interests‘).

In an affidavit filed by SIEU President Terry Lee, TRE saw an attachment [Link] which mentions the unresolved CPF matter. The attachment is a copy of minutes of a meeting held on 6 February 2012, between the management of NTUC Income and officials of SIEU.

At the meeting, SIEU President Terry Lee confirmed that the CPF over-deduction matter had been an outstanding issue for years. He said that the union had raised this issue with management for many years but nothing was done.

He also said that if there really was an over-deduction, it would be best for management to address and resolve it. He added that SIEU had informed the financial consultants that management would not shortchange them and it would be good if management could demonstrate their good faith on this issue.

At the meeting, it was also noted that NTUC Income CEO would only consider refunding the over-deducted payments for a period of 1 to 2 years but not more:
“The CEO said that he will review this with Mr Chai (SVP & Head of Finance Division of NTUC Income) to see if management can allow a refund of the over-deducted payments for a period of say 1 to 2 years. It will not be possible to go further back than this.”

It remains to be seen how CPF Board will deal with NTUC Income on this matter.

In March 2013, NTUC Income was actually fined about $3 million by IRAS for under-declaring the income of its financial consultants for two decades (‘NTUC Income pays $3m in fines, back-taxes’):

SINGAPORE – Insurance giant NTUC Income paid around $3 million last month in back-taxes and fines, after it emerged that it had under-declared the incomes for its agents for two decades.

The issue came to light recently after the tax error was mentioned in a lawsuit filed by three NTUC Income agents against the Singapore Insurance Employees’ Union.

Speaking to The Straits Times last Friday, NTUC Income’s senior vice-president and general manager for distribution, Mr Ken Ng, said that the error was an oversight, and added that it had voluntarily approached the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) to make good. “We took full responsibility for it,” he said.

Incidentally, SIEU President Terry Lee himself was a CPF Board member from 2006 to 2009.

The High Court hearing on the issue of SIEU failing to represent the interests of the financial consultants has been scheduled on 9 September 2013.

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