New AGC division to study trends in crime

A new division of the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) will examine crime trends and propose possible reforms to improve the criminal justice system in the long run.

The new Criminal Justice Division, led by Chief Prosecutor Tai Wei Shyong, was announced at the AGC's annual workplan seminar yesterday.

It is a merger of the current Criminal Justice and State Prosecution divisions.

Other organisational changes that take effect today include the AGC's Economic Crimes and Governance Division being redesignated the Financial and Technology Crime Division, as well as the Legislation and Law Reform Division being renamed the Legislation Division.

The Legislation Division, which is also Singapore's central law-drafting office, will still be helmed by Chief Legislative Counsel Owi Beng Ki.

In a statement yesterday, the AGC said the changes will ensure that it optimises its resources to "fairly and efficiently" administrate justice in the public interest, in order to better serve Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Financial and Technology Crime Division, headed by Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh, will bring the prosecution of cybercrimes under its purview.

The AGC said it recognises that many financial crimes in today's tech-savvy, inter-connected world involve cross-border transactions and the use of sophisticated technology.

Police statistics showed that in the first half of this year, online cheating rocketed to 504 cases - up from just 96 in the same period last year.

This included a twentyfold spike in cases of people being duped into making multiple payments for Internet purchases.

The AGC said prosecutors who deal with such cases require deep and up-to-date knowledge of business organisations, markets, banking practices, and financial and other commercial transactions, in order to successfully prosecute white-collar criminals.

As part of the training, prosecutors serving this division could see themselves going through specialist advocacy training or be attached to securities commissions, market regulators and other law enforcement agencies overseas.

They would also be trained in relevant areas such as forensic accounting basics.

The specialist track will "hone the expertise of existing talent and may attract lawyers with relevant prior experience (mid-career hires) in banking and the financial markets", said the AGC.

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