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Second jail term for ex-lawyer who deceived company director into giving him $13,400

Second jail term for ex-lawyer who deceived company director into giving him $13,400

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 18 Apr 2024
Author: Shaffiq Alkhatib

Former lawyer Leong Wai Nam, now 56, was struck off the rolls in 2010.

A former lawyer, who was sentenced to more than six years jail in 2009 for offences including cheating, will be spending more time behind bars after he reoffended following his release.

Leong Wai Nam, now 56, was struck off the rolls in 2010.

Despite this, a construction company director handed him $13,400 for “legal services” over several occasions between Aug 12, 2016, and Jan 17, 2017, as he did not realise that Leong was no longer a lawyer.

On April 17, Leong was sentenced to five years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to a cheating charge in March.

Defence lawyer Jeeva Joethy from Regal Law told the court that his client could not come up with the funds for restitution.

He also said Leong will undergo an examination on April 19 for suspected pancreatic cancer.

In 2009, Leong pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal breach of trust involving $56,600 and one of cheating a businessman of $4,300. Ten other charges were taken into consideration.

He was initially sentenced to three years and eight months’ jail, but this was later increased to six years and six months’ jail following the prosecution’s appeal at the High Court.

For the current case, Leong received the $13,400 after convincing the 59-year-old construction company director that he would help him in a civil suit against another firm, identified as Hao Tai Construction.

In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yong told the court that 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, Leong duped the victim into paying him the monies for “legal services”, including drafting letters of demand.

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

The former lawyer 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.

Initially, Leong would meet the director and explain the legal process to him. But he began meeting the victim less frequently, citing reasons including feeling unwell.

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.

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

Leong is now out on bail of $10,000, and is expected to surrender himself at the State Courts on May 2 to begin serving his sentence.

Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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