Disbarred lawyer cons company director into giving $13,400, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Disbarred lawyer cons company director into giving $13,400

A construction company director handed a former lawyer $13,400 for legal services, not realising that the man had been disbarred from practising.

Leong Wai Nam, 56, who was struck off the rolls in 2011, received the money after telling the 59-year-old director he would help him in a civil suit against another company, identified as Hao Tai Construction.

The prosecution said Leong would communicate with the victim through WhatsApp and claim that he was doing “legal work”, such as preparing affidavits against Hao Tai Construction.

Leong also claimed at one point to being “with the judge now”, implying to the victim that he was purportedly in court acting on the older man’s behalf.

Leong eventually admitted to the victim that he was not a practising lawyer, and the latter alerted the police in June 2018.

Leong, who has made no restitution, pleaded guilty to a cheating charge on March 19.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yong said the victim had earlier intended to sue Hao Tai Construction over an alleged breach of contract. Court documents did not disclose details about this civil case.

One of the victim’s friends introduced Leong to him, and the two men met in August 2016.

Leong then told the victim he was working for a company called Equitasasia and provided a company e-mail in his name.

Over several occasions between Aug 12, 2016, and Jan 17, 2017, Leong duped the victim into paying $13,400 in total for “legal services”, including drafting letters of demand.

Initially, Leong would meet the older man and explain the legal process to him. But as time passed, he met the victim less frequently, citing reasons including feeling unwell at the time.

Meanwhile, Leong engaged law firm DG Law to make a claim against Hao Tai Construction.

According to court documents, DG Law was under the impression that Leong was referring the victim to it for the claim and proceeded to draft the appropriate writs.

As Hao Tai Construction did not make an appearance in court later, a default judgment of $45,000 was awarded to the victim’s company.

Leong, who was aware of this outcome, failed to enforce this default judgment. Instead, he told DG Law and the victim that Hao Tai Construction would be paying the sum in instalments. This was false, as he had never contacted anyone at Hao Tai Construction.

DPP Chong said: “(The victim) despite being awarded the default judgment, did not see any money from the suit as he was otherwise unaware of the outcome of the matter. DG Law... was supposed to receive $2,000 in legal costs from (the victim’s company) but did not.”

Leong eventually told the victim the suit against Hao Tai Construction was successful but claimed that there were “delays in payment”.

He finally admitted to the victim that he was not a practising lawyer, and the latter lodged a police report.

Shortly after the report was made, Leong went to China and was arrested after he returned to Singapore on Jan 2, 2022.

His mitigation and sentencing are expected to take place on April 17.

For cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.