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Bank of Singapore's medical benefits issue affected hundreds of employees, fairly or not

As we were first to report last week, Bank of Singapore has been cracking down on employees whom it says made fraudulent medical insurance claims. The bank is declining to comment on the issue, but multiple sources at the bank say the allegations of fraud extend far beyond the 40 or so people who've actually been dismissed.

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It's understood that somewhere between 500 and 900 people working for the bank have been investigated in relation to the claims, with the investigations beginning last year. 

"We were initially asked to accept by email that we would repay the money that had been reimbursed to us," says one of the employees impacted. "We did this, but in January and Feburary 2024, they began handing out different levels of punishment according to employees' responses in individual interviews." 

There are suggestions on Reddit that the claims relate to a clinic akin to a "mama shop" [the Singaporean name for a corner store) where employees were allegedly able to claim for everything from antihistamines to food supplements, baby milk and beauty treatments. Sources at the bank tell us the claims were worth up to $10k. When Bank of Singapore realised what was going on, it clamped down.

The Straits Times suggested the clinic at the centre of the furore is Drs Thompson and Thomson (DTT). However, DTT has denied having a relationship with the Bank of Singapore. 

It seems that BOS employees were clearly in the wrong, but many of those affected by the problem say it wasn't their fault. "The bank says employees defrauded the company by claiming insurance monies from products we bought from a highly licensed medical practitioner," says one. "The bank is not accepting that its controls failed and has put all the blame on us." Another says most people were unaware that they were doing anything incorrect. 

Some of those affected are thought to have claimed the full $10k, which they have since reimbursed to the bank. Around 50% of those impacted are thought to be front office bankers in relationship management roles. Some are senior.

As well as complaining that they were unaware that the claims were illegitimate, Bank of Singapore employees caught up in the affair, say there's been a lack of transparency in how the claims have been dealt with. "Some employees were issued letters of warning and faced disciplinary committees, after which they were fired," says one. Following the initial round of layoffs, it's thought that a disciplinary inquiry scheduled for hundreds of people did not happen.

However, most people caught up in the issue are understood to have had their bonuses cut and promotions cancelled. More damagingly, they also have notes in their personnel files, which will be disclosed to prospective employers. Some say their mental and physical health has suffered as a result.

"We can't seek employment anywhere else and have to stay here, even though we're repaid all the money, had no promotions and had our bonuses reduced," says one of the affected employees. 

They argue that other BOS  employees engage in fraudulent activities and yet seem to get away with it. "When employees travel on banks' expenses, they accrue the travel miles they earn to their personal flying accounts. - The bank is paying for the flights, but the employees enjoy the benefits," says one. "This is being misused too because relationship managers travel for no reason and give excuses to travel even when they don't need to." 

Bank of Singapore declined to comment for this article. However, a BOS spokesman told the Straits Times: “Where wrongdoing is alleged, the matter will be investigated and reviewed according to the bank’s investigative and disciplinary framework.”

One such example is when the employees who travel on banks expenses they accord the travel miles earned awarded by the airline companies to their personal flying miles accounts. While the bank is paying for the flights the employees earn the miles and after that enjoy the benefits of air miles. This also is being misused as the relationship managers travel for no reasons and give excuses to travel even when there is no business.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Mr
    Mr G
    29 April 2024

    The clinic should be investigated too it is obviously the place to go to for such claims.

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