Friday, January 29, 2010

Hindraf makes public its accounts - Malaysiakini

The outlawed Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), which reportedly never sought registration, released its accounts today for “for public scrutiny and comment”.

The move comes in the wake of allegations that millions were collected for the ad-hoc movement's cause and never accounted for.

The accounts were published under Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, described by the chartered accountants and public accountants as an organisation “pending registration”.

Apparently, this approach legally circumvents the ban on Hindraf. Makkal Sakthi stands for 'people power' in Tamil, the language of most Malaysians of Indian origin.

NONE“One caveat we must add is that these accounts have not been audited,” explained Hindraf chair P Waythamoorthy in a telephone call from London.

“It was not possible to audit the accounts because the accountants could not get the co-operation of several former Hindraf activists.”

The accounts have been presented by Chartered and Public Accountants Pathmarajah & Co as a statement of receipts and payments from Nov 6, 2007 to Dec 31, 2009.

The accounts, dated Jan 28, 2010, carry a sworn statement signed by Hindraf co-coordinator S Jayathas.

Waythamoorthy said that he could only account for monies he had personal knowledge of, either entrusted to him and/or collected in the initial stages when Hindraf came to the attention of the public.

There is a gap of about RM500,000 missing from the final figures, he added.

This figure is based on a police report lodged by 'ASP' K Vasanthakumar, the de facto Hindraf treasurer on Jan 9, 2008, more than three weeks after he was detained under the ISA,” said Waythamoorthy.

“Vasanthakumar claimed in the police report that about RM700,000 was collected by Hindraf.”

Rival referred to as ASP

He wants Vasanthakumar to explain to the public and the accountants where the remaining RM500,000 went, if at all such a sum existed as alleged in his police report.

Asked why he referred to Vasanthakumar as ASP (assistant superintendent of police), Waythamoorthy maintained that he was a police Special Branch undercover operative.

“His mission was to infiltrate Hindraf under the Umno government's 'Operasi Padam Hindraf' (Operation Eliminate Hindraf),” he said.

NONE“When he first approached us about three months before the ISA arrests on Dec 13, 2007, he claimed that he was a bank officer,” he added.

“Initially, we had no reason to doubt his credentials, which we never checked anyway. That's why we let him handle the accounts at his suggestion,” said Waythamoorthy (left).

It appears that the monies directly collected by Hindraf were through Hindraf Enterprise, a sole proprietorship registered in the name of Vasanthakumar.

Hindraf Enterprise was ostensibly set up as a stationery supplier, although its main objective was to bank in monies collected by Hindraf activists for the organisation.

Vasanthakumar in turn, according to Waythamoorthy, doled out the money to various parties for Hindraf activities or bail money.

Even so, the accounts show that the total money received from HE and placed "in the care of trusted individuals", as Waythamoorthy puts it, was RM119,814.20.

When the government cancelled the business registration of Hindraf Enterprise and froze its accounts, the business had only RM1,090. A further RM10,000 is due from the court as bail money for Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy's elder brother.

Also due to Hindraf Enterprise, he alleged, was RM50,000 in bail money returned by the court and being kept by V Paparaidu, a brother of former ISA Hindraf detainee V Ganapathi Rao.

“Paparaidu and/or Ganapathi Rao had refused to return to Hindraf the said bail sum of RM50,000 vide his lawyer's letter dated Dec 14, last year,” said Waythamoorthy.

“This is bail money collected from the public for Uthayakumar and returned by the court to Paparaidu who was the bailor.”

Summarising the accounts for the benefit of the public, Waythamoorthy stressed that monies remaining with Hindraf activists are with Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and were transferred wholly on Dec 31 last year from an interest-bearing clients account of Messrs Kumar Hashimah & Co, a legal firm, to a similar account with Chartered and Public Accountants Pathmarajah & Co.

The total amounts comes to RM227,249.46. This appears to include sums given to various individuals by Vasanthakumar and never used by them.

It includes RM35,000 banked in on two occasions by Vasanthakumar into Waythamoorthy's credit card account when he away in India from late November to early December 2007.

“I never used the money and it is now with the accountants,” said Waythamoorthy. “Vasanthakumar called me in India and insisted on banking in the money into my account. I didn't feel right using public money,” said Waythamoorthy.

He clarified that the sole purpose of the various monies collected was to bail out and aid Hindraf activists who were arrested by police or brought to court.

“It was never our purpose to collect monies to use in pursuing the civil suit filed in the United Kingdom,” he added.

Petition prepared for HM Queen Elizabeth II

Hindraf had prepared a petition to be presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The petition seeking free legal aid, to be directed via the British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur in late 2007, was allegedly thwarted by the police and subsequently degenerated into the infamous Hindraf street demonstration.

“It was never the intention of Hindraf to take to the streets as alleged by police,” swore Waythamoorthy. “They (the police) used the occasion of the presentation of the petition to create a street demonstration.”

With the release of the Hindraf accounts under Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, Waythamoorthy would not be surprised if the authorities move swiftly to seize all remaining funds and freeze them.

“We are prepared for this,” he said. “After all, the money is just lying there in the sole client account and with Paparaidu and/or Ganapathi Rao (RM50,000), Vasanthakumar (as per police report) and the court (RM10,000)."

Outlawed organisations, under the law, are not allowed to have any funds, much less prepare accounts.

One prickly issue is that Hindraf has never sought registration, and by logical deduction, cannot be outlawed.

Statement of Hindraf account