Lawyer convicted of CBT, cheating, struck off the rolls

Lawyer convicted of CBT, cheating, struck off the rolls

SINGAPORE -Jailed lawyer Tan Cheng Yew, who is serving a 13-year prison term for criminal breach of trust and cheating involving some $5.7 million, was yesterday struck off the rolls.

Tan, 46, did not contest the application by the Law Society to disbar him, nor did he attend the hearing before the Court of Three Judges yesterday.

The court, the highest disciplinary body for the legal profession, has the power to censure, fine, suspend or disbar lawyers for professional misconduct.

Tan, a one-time star debater at the National University of Singapore law faculty, went on the run for six years until his arrest in Germany in 2009.

He was extradited to Singapore and charged with three counts each of criminal breach of trust and cheating.

The Malaysian, a Singapore permanent resident, was called to the Bar in 1992 and practised at Tan Cheng Yew & Partners, which later merged with Tan JinHwee, Eunice & Lim ChooEng.

In 2011, Tan was jailed for nine years by a district court.

This was upped to 12 years by the High Court on appeal.

In 2001, Tan deposited a $1.5 million cheque entrusted to him by the family he was acting for into his own account and pledged the funds as security for a personal loan facility.

The family had intended to loan the money to a church.

He also deposited $1.9 million - the proceeds of a shares sale he handled for the family - into his own bank accounts.

In 2002, Tan duped a member of the family into giving him $480,000. He cheated the same person into handing over $900,000 after claiming he would invest the sum with an Australian bank.

Last year, Tan was jailed an additional year for the two remaining charges - one for misappropriating $1 million and the other, for cheating involving $100,000.

Yesterday, lawyer Chandra Mohan, acting for the Law Society, said lawyers who dishonestly misappropriated their clients' money have inevitably been struck off.

This article was published on May 10 in The Straits Times.

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