AGC refers case involving LKY's will, Lee Suet Fern to Law Society
AGC cites possible professional misconduct by Lee Hsien Yang's wife in preparing Lee Kuan Yew's last will
The long-running feud between the Lee siblings over 38 Oxley Road has taken a new turn, with allegations of possible professional misconduct by Mrs Lee Suet Fern in preparing the last will of her father-in-law, founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has made a complaint to the Law Society (LawSoc) but said in a statement yesterday that its move does not relate to the validity of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last will.
It issued the statement a day after Dr Lee Wei Ling disclosed the AGC's complaint in a Facebook post on Sunday night.
She and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have repeatedly clashed with their older brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over whether their late father's house should be preserved or demolished.
Noting it became aware of a possible case of professional misconduct by Mrs Lee, the AGC said it has a statutory duty to deal with misconduct by lawyers.
It said that under the Legal Profession Act, it is required to consider if it should refer the matter to the Law Society.
Responding in a Facebook post last night, Mr Lee Hsien Yang questioned what public interest is being served by the AGC and why it is rushing the case this year when the facts were known by all parties for years.
He also asked the AGC to release the full correspondence with his wife Suet Fern, saying its assertion that she refused to respond is untrue.
In its statement, the AGC said Mrs Lee appears to have prepared the late Mr Lee's last will and arranged for him to execute it, despite her husband being a beneficiary in the will.
It noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang, whose share increased under the final will, had said publicly the last will was drafted by Ms Kwa Kim Li of law firm Lee & Lee. But Ms Kwa has denied drafting it.
The AGC cited the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules, saying it stipulates that lawyers do not place themselves in a position of conflict.
"Where a person intends to make a significant gift by will to any member of the lawyer's family, the lawyer must not act for the person and must advise him to obtain independent advice in respect of the gift. This rule applies even if the lawyer is related to the person making the gift," the AGC said.
Mrs Lee's conduct appears to be in breach of the rules, it said.
Deputy Attorney-General Lionel Yee is overseeing the case as Attorney-General Lucien Wong has recused himself, the AGC said.
Mr Wong was previously PM Lee's personal lawyer.
AGC added that it has written to Mrs Lee several times since last October to explain the position and her role, if any, in preparing the last will.
It said Mrs Lee was assured the matter would end if she had good explanations for her conduct, but she did not answer the questions despite asking for more time.
The AGC then referred the case to the Law Society, and Mr Yee further asked that it be referred to a disciplinary tribunal.
In doing so, the AGC said it does not make any findings on the merits of the case, adding that it is for the disciplinary tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice to investigate, determine if there was misconduct and what actions should be taken.
Mrs Lee is entitled to make her case to the Tribunal, it said.
Law Society President Gregory Vijayendran said it is not unusual for the AGC to make complaints against lawyers, and that judges do so as well.
"This is not a bolt from the blue or something we are looking at for the very first time in our industry," he added.
Mr Vijayendran said he could not comment further as the Legal Profession Act mandates that such proceedings be kept confidential. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FABIAN KOH
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