SINGAPORE: A former lawyer has been sentenced to six years’ jail for unauthorized transfers and misappropriation of monies from his firm’s client account amounting to almost S$1.5 million.
Raymond Tan Tiong Hian, 44, had committed the offences by relying on pre—signed cheques on 31 occasions over a 17—month period from June 2009 to November 2010.
The misappropriated funds were paid out to 11 recipients who were unaware of his illegal doings.
The court heard that part of the money was used to foot personal expenses and mostly used to help pay the debts of the father of a woman with whom Tan had a child with.
Some of the misappropriated funds were also paid to Tan’s wife, Chew Bee Hoon.
In mitigation, Tan’s lawyer said his client is remorseful and has made restitution of close to 90 per cent of the funds misappropriated.
But prosecution urged for a deterrent sentence, saying the net loss to victims amounted to more than S$178,500.
In sentencing, the district judge pointed out that the offences Tan committed were serious.
He said Tan had made the unauthorised transfers as a practising solicitor, which resulted in the clients’ financial loss as well as loss of trust in the legal profession.
The judge said Tan’s acts were premeditated and warranted custodial term.
Of the 31 counts, prosecution proceeded on 10 charges.
The judge noted that for those 10 charges, the amount of funds came up to more than S$900,000.
He added that the larger the amount involved, the greater the culpability and that the sentence must reflect the gravity of the offences.
While the judge said he took Tan’s remorse and restitution efforts into consideration, he said these cannot be over—emphasized.
Tan could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined on each count of criminal breach of trust.
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