'Poorest doc' jailed for big money transfers to lover

Andrew Chee (L) had deposited Toto winnings of $671,914 into a joint account with his wife. But he later transferred large sums of money from it to his lover, clinic assistant Lew Yek Yeong (R).

A GENERAL practitioner who once said he was the "poorest doctor in Singapore" was on Friday sentenced to 10 weeks' jail for transferring more than $190,000 to his lover and her brother within five years before his bankruptcy order.

Andrew Chee Weng Kheong, 58, who is appealing against his conviction, was found guilty of four charges after a six-day trial. He was acquitted of five similar charges involving $515,680.

He was made a bankrupt on Oct 6, 2006 upon the application of his former wife, Ms Elizabeth Lim Choo Suan, who did so as he did not pay her share of matrimonial assets. She divorced him in 2004 for unreasonable behaviour.

Chee, who used to own Rainbow Clinic and Surgery in Bukit Batok, had deposited Toto winnings of $671,914, which the prosecution claimed to be his matrimonial assets, into a joint account with his wife. But he later transferred large sums of money from it to his lover, clinic assistant Lew Yek Yeong.

Chee's main defence was that he did not win the Toto money, which belonged to Ms Lew, the sole holder of the winning ticket.

He claimed he had taken two loans totalling $450,000 from Ms Lew in 2003 and that the cheques of $3,000 to $250,000 were "essentially repayments" of her Toto winnings held by him in proxy in the form of a cheque.

In clearing Chee of four charges of transferring cheques totalling about $475,000 to Ms Lew in 2003, District Judge Toh Yung Cheong found that the prosecution had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the entire Toto winnings of $671,914 belonged to Chee.

"Based on the documentation from Singapore Pools as well as the letters that the accused wrote to Singapore Pools, there was a distinct possibility, amounting to a reasonable doubt, that Ms Lew and the accused were joint holders of the winning ticket and that part of the $671,914 belonged to Ms Lew."

But the judge rejected the doctor's defence that the entire sum belonged to Ms Lew.

Noting the flurry of transfers in March 2003, the same month that the Toto winnings were claimed, Judge Toh said: "In my view, these transfers were the accused handing back to Ms Lew her share of the winnings."

As for the 2004 transfers of $197,345 to Ms Lew and her brother, Mr Lew Kwan Koon, the judge said Chee knew then that there were divorce proceedings, and that there would ultimately be orders made regarding the division of matrimonial assets.

"The fact that large transfers of funds suddenly occurred shortly after Ms Lim filed for divorce leads to the inference that the accused was transferring his assets in order to frustrate any subsequent order regarding the division of matrimonial assets," he said.

Assistant Official Assignee and Public Trustee Davyd Chong urged the court to impose a jail sentence in line with past cases, which had a jail term of at least four weeks. Chee could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to three years per charge.

elena@sph.com.sg


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