Martin Lee @ Sg
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Missing CPF Monies?

I was reading a comment online the other day made by a person X that upon his wife’s demise, the CPF proceeds were not paid to him (can’t find the source now).

He checked with the parents of his spouse and they did not receive anything too.

CPF mentioned that the proceeds were paid out in accordance with the nomination made by the deceased but they were unable to reveal the identity of the nominees as it was part of their policy.

So there was no way for the person to know whom the money was paid out to or even to verify that the money was paid out in the first place.

If this story was true, I think it’s a policy that definitely needs to be tweaked!

While there is a need to protect the confidentiality of any nomination made while a person is still alive, surely the immediate next of kin has a right to know where the money went to after the person has died?

The passing on of a loved one is already a highly emotional draining event and having this kind of thing happen would only serve to add more stress and burden on the person involved.

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20 comments
Wilfred Ling says 7 years ago

Under CPF Act section 6(2), the CPF Board is the Trustee of the CPF fund. In a commercial trust setting, the details of the trust deed is confidential and the manner which the trustee distributes the trust assets is also confidential. So what the CPF Board is doing is in line with industry practice.

To prevent any unexpected mishap, couples should always review their estate planning once in a while. I have seen couples who did not revisit their nominations and Wills for nearly two decades. When they find out whom they nominated, they almost fainted for nominating people who are not even close to them because it was done when they did not even have any children.

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    This is a good example where actual application of a policy has deviated from the original intent of the policy.

    Reply
    Singaporean says 7 years ago

    The difference is that CPF board will check the birth of the eldest child so as to void earlier nominations but that does not eradicate the possibility of fraud still.

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Singaporean says 7 years ago

The threat of fraud is very real nowadays. We have heard of the case where a few cents were siphoned off bank accounts amounting to millions for decades and no one was the wiser until a scrooge noticed it and raised the alarm.
It is very easy now with computerisation for a foreign IT programmer to program a subroutine that kicks in on a random basis and with all these secrecy no one will be the wiser. It is not so much that CPF does not want to pay but for someone on the take inside to commit fraud. Singaporeans do not really understand how foreigners from foreign culture are willing and have the tenacity to defraud our system.
E.g. someone with access to the computer system can easily add a subroutine and divert funds from dead members knowing that the trusting Singaporeans who believed in the Singapore system will simply say the dead member has nominated someone else. Everyone in the family also thought so and the case is not pursued, least of all by CPF staff.
I have also came across this scenario when my Dad passed away. We informed CPF and they wrote to me asking for my birthdate as I am the eldest child. After that I did not hear from them and a check with all my family members revealed that none of them receive the proceeds and we trusted the system and moved on. So this is not just an isolated case and with increasing number of foreign talent working in our statutory boards we should look at this possibility of possible fraud. In any case, it is better to let surviving members of the family have a clear mind and closure rather than keep them in suspense till their very last days.
If the name of the nominated person be known then it could be very clear what happened. For example, a Chinese or Malay family who did not inherit the CPF monies were to know that an Indian name was nominated they would then be able to report to the police as their deceased family member do not have any Indian friends or relatives, let alone nominate a foreign sounding Indian national as the beneficiary of all his or her CPF monies.

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    Hmm Singaporean,

    So did you manage to track the missing monies for your dad’s case in the end?

    Reply
      Singaporean says 7 years ago

      No, this happened more than a decade ago and at that time it did not occur to me that there is the possibility of fraud. Anyway it will not be easy to trace as the CPF board is not flexible with its policies.

      Reply
Nuts says 7 years ago

If the contents of a Will can be made known to all family members (especially to those not getting a single cent) and friends and even strangers, why can’t the CPF nomination be also made known to immediate family members? Maybe this info is under Official Secrets Act??

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    Nuts, I think you made a very good point.

    Reply
Jasmin says 7 years ago

Money issue is always very sensitive. However, I think it is a good idea that after the death of a CPF member, his/her nomination (if any) is revealed to his/her spouse & children.

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DanielP says 7 years ago

There is obviously the possibility of fraud, however on the opposite side is the member’s confidentiality, it is possible, the wife wanted to give to one or both her parents or perhaps a sibling or donated to a favourite charity, without letting the husband know about it, to avoid any unpleasantness.
I find it strange the husband did not know who the wife nominated, I would assume if there is nothing wrong with the relationship, both would know who they each nominated.
Just because they dont know who got the money, does not automatically mean somebody stole it.
Not every family is the same I guess, some have more secrets than others.

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    Daniel,

    I think the most unpleasantness comes when the surviving spouse don’t know where the money goes to!

    It is fine if he or she knows the other party left 100% of the cpf to charity or another relative. Unhappy no doubt but there will be proper closure and no dispute.

    Otherwise, he will start to wonder whether there is another 3rd party or something.

    Reply
      DanielP says 7 years ago

      I think it is possible the wife did not want him to know for whatever reason, he could be the really jealous type who did not want his in-laws to get a cent, so to protect them, they could feign ignorance. She might be afraid he would hound her parents for what he thought he was entitled to.
      He is in limbo now because his wife did not want to tell him where she wanted her CPF money to go to, when she was alive.

      Reply
lioninvestor says 7 years ago

Posting this on behalf:

Hi Martin

I heard of a similar case few years ago from my ex boss. After his mother passed away, the 9 children tried to close the CPF account. The father had passed away before that. But CPF board would not tell them who are the nominee (s) among the 9. None of them claimed to have received the money and no one knows who their mother intended to leave the money to and how much was there.

Why is the government handling things in that manner, they are all their mother’s children ! Why do they have no right to know ? Then who has the right to know ? How does the government return the money to the correct person then, please advise if you know how or the procedure. It seems that government wants to make life difficult; mind you it’s our hard earned money in the first place. Or the recent election has not taught serving the people properly and with respect ?

I left the company while they were still seeking lawyers’ and MPs’ help, hence not sure what was the outcome. It was a complicated and frustrating experiences from what I heard, with multiple trips (take annual leave) there but no outcome.

Publish this if you can. I like to create awareness that the approach towards next-of-kin is not acceptable when someone passed away.

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Createwealth8888 says 7 years ago

Especially for married women, they may have good reasons to change their nomination and choose not leave their money to husbands.

If one suspects fraud, make a police report?

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    Yes, they can make police report but I think it creates unnecessary hoops since everyone that has this kind of scenario happen to them will have to do it. And play the merry go round game…

    Might as well improve the process so that it is catered for.

    Reply
Anon says 7 years ago

From what I understand, once you get married, you spouse automatically becomes your nominee, replacing any previous nominations you have made. So in this case I believe the wife went out the way to nominate someone else’s after she got married, for whatever reason. So maybe we should respect her confidentiality? Anyway, since he is a spouse, I believe there will be channels for him.

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    lioninvestor says 7 years ago

    Hi anon,

    Think there is also the issue of fraud. So some transparency would be necessary.

    Reply
      Mac says 7 years ago

      @Anon- I agree with your assessment that the Decease went out her way to nominate someone else’s after she got married.

      Transparency is Important, but for Whom? The Husband or the Decease?

      Each Family has it’s own Politics, that others may find bewildering.

      I know of Spouses, whom are estranged, but choose to “Stay Together” rather than Divorce. Thus Monies distribution maybe influenced, rather than the surviving spouse get the monies.

      I Stay by the CPF policy, Respect Each Person Wishes as how to divide One’s Monies. Ignoring “Pressures” from other family or non legislated social factors.

      But Rather than resort to Legal means to press CPF to review whom gotten what amount of monies.

      Time maybe right for a Ombudsman. To assist to assure that the Monies is handled as what the Person “Willed” prior to the Death.

      CPF, is Not a Will, but an inexpensive way to divide ones monies.

      In certain Wills, parties not getting a cent of monies, need not be informed, in the cases whereby the Decrease specifically stated so.

      Reply
    Wilfred Ling says 7 years ago

    This is incorrect.

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The Watchman says 7 years ago

Yes, the confidentiality must be bent only for the spouse of the deceased or the parents if they are not receiving the proceed . What if someone inside has embezzled it ? Who knows? He or she can claim confidentiality to protect himself or herself.

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