SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A senior lawyer ignored a series of warning signs about his "unorthodox" transfer behavior, which turned out to be a crook, misappropriating $ 848 from 17 clients.
The fraudster, Yes Tee Peng, later paid a portion of the money, but two of the company's customers still suffered losses in the amount of $ 47,669.
On Monday (April 29), Mr. Troy Yeo Siew Chye, a 36-year-old lawyer, was suspended from the practice for four years for failing to adequately supervise the Sim and violate other rules of the profession.
Yeo, who was the sole owner of Troy Yeo & Co, hired Sim in July 2011 to help him set up a transfer department and introduce clients to him.
Between August 31, 2011 and October 19, 2011, Yes deposited $ 448,803, paid by 22 customers for stamp fees on the company's office account, although the money was to be placed in a separate account.
In some cases, Sim told Mr. Yeo that he had paid in advance for customers and presented forged seal tax certificates, requesting reimbursement from the company.
Without verifying whether Sim actually paid in advance, Yeo paid approximately $ 336,676. Yeo also used some of the money for the company's daily expenses.
Yes tricked 17 customers of $ 848,335 by cheating them to pay stamp duty fees, down payments and legal fees to their personal bank account.
In January 2012, the company was invaded by the Interior Tax Authority of Singapore, which told Yeo that it was investigating Sim for producing fake stamp tax certificates.
Later that month, the Department of Commercial Affairs invaded the company about the transfer transactions.
Despite this, the company continued to accept new download files brought by Sim.
After Sim left Yeo's company, he deceived customers from three other law firms.
Yes, he was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in 2016.
In 2017, the Attorney General filed a complaint with the Law Society against Mr. Yeo.
Mr. Yeo was found guilty by a disciplinary court in July of last year for failing to properly oversee the Yes, for not transferring money into the designated account, and for failing to maintain appropriate accounting records.
The court considered that the case was serious enough to be referred to the Three Judges Court, which has the power to suspend or dismiss the lawyers.
On Monday, senior lawyer Kenneth Tan, representing Yeo, argued that his client was also a victim. Tan said that Yeo put into practice a system for adequate payments, but Yes went directly to the clients and posed as a lawyer.
He asked for a fine or suspension "at the lower end of the scale".
Abraham Vergis, a representative of the Law Society, accepted that Yes defrauded Yeo.
However, Sim's crimes could have been easily detected if Yeo carried out elementary checks, he argued.
Seeking a substantial suspension, Mr. Vergis said that there were many red flags that should have alerted Mr. Yeo that something was wrong.
This included Sim's unconventional method of "paying" stamp fees, authorities' attacks and his willingness to work part-time for Yeo without salary or commission for six months.