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Five accused in S$2.8B money laundering case replaced their lawyers amid bail frustration

Five defendants in Singapore’s monumental S$2.8 billion money laundering case replaced their lawyers due to dissatisfaction over failure to secure bail.

None have received bail from the Singapore court yet.



SINGAPORE: At least five accused in Singapore’s landmark S$2.8 billion money laundering case have taken the step to replace their lawyers, purportedly due to dissatisfaction with their lawyers’ inability to secure bail for them from the judge.

As of now, none of the accused individuals in this significant case have been granted bail by the Singapore court.

On 16 August, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) announced a raid involving over 400 officers across the island in a crackdown on money laundering and forgery activities, resulting in the historic seizure of assets which shocked the entire Island.

Ten individuals, with diverse nationalities but a common Fujian heritage, were arrested and charged in court on 17 August with forgery, money laundering, and resisting arrest.

Reports from the Chinese media outlet 8World News suggested that some defendants expressed dissatisfaction with their original legal counsel and opted to replace them, hoping that new representation would successfully advocate for bail on their behalf.

According to records spanning three consecutive months of court proceedings and pre-trial meetings, as of Wednesday (15th November), at least five defendants have changed their legal representation.

These individuals include Lin Baoying, Wang Baosen, Chen Qingyuan, Wang Dehai, and Wang Shuiming.

Among them, 33-year-old Cambodian Chen Qingyuan has switched lawyers twice.

Initially represented by Denise Teo from Yuen Law, Chen then transitioned to lawyer Mark Tan from Focus Law Asia LLC, and subsequently, last month, sought representation from Gary Low from Drew & Napier, one of the prominent law firms.

Notably, Chen faced another setback on Friday (17 Nov) as his bail plea was rejected, citing concerns of flight risk, weak ties to Singapore, and alleged existing charges in China for fraud.

The most recent individual to change legal representation is Wang Baosen.

During the pre-trial meeting for his case held on Wednesday, Wang changed his representative lawyer from Adrian Wee of Lighthouse Law to Favian Kang Kok Boon from Adelphi Law Chambers LLC.”

Defendants allegedly believe high lawyer fees ensure bail

According to 8 World News, an unnamed lawyer disclosed that some defendants held the belief that their hefty lawyer fees could guarantee their release on bail.

At this juncture, hiring legal representation seems solely rooted in the hope that the lawyer can devise a strategy for securing their bail.

The lawyer expressed concern, stating a belief that the defendants lack a comprehensive understanding of local laws, expecting lawyers to handle everything without their cooperation.

The lawyer expressed that during meetings with the defendants to gather essential details, cooperation was notably lacking.

Consequently, when these lawyers appeared in court, they struggled to form persuasive arguments due to the absence of a reasonable foundation.

Moreover, the lawyer highlighted that their client asserted having an untainted record and no history of criminal activity abroad.

However, when the lawyer attempted to advocate for bail based on this assertion, the prosecution countered with an arrest warrant.

“This situation was deeply embarrassing. The claim of innocence could not serve as a valid argument. ”

“I felt confounded, almost questioning my own judgment. It’s a frustrating position to be in,” the lawyer lamented.

The lawyer indicated that due to the defendant’s lack of cooperation and honesty, there was a mutual agreement that they couldn’t continue to work together.

Eventually, the lawyer chose not to represent one of the defendants anymore.

Substantial legal expenses

The defendants embroiled in the S$2.8 billion money laundering case have engaged prominent legal representation, with the legal expenses involved being notably substantial.

An initial estimation indicates that the cumulative legal fees for each individual thus far span from tens of thousands to well over a hundred thousand Singapore dollars.

Certain lawyers disclosed that their clients encountered challenges in fulfilling their payment obligations.

An anonymous lawyer highlighted that this predicament predominantly stems from the freezing of the defendant’s assets, rendering it inconvenient for their family members to cover the legal fees or due to an insufficient amount of funds available.

Complicating matters further, lawyers are mandated to divulge the payer’s identity and the source of the funds upon fee collection.

This complexity has arisen in these financial “transactions.” Consequently, some lawyers assert they have yet to receive their fees and, consequently, have opted to discontinue representing the defendants.

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“Notably, Chen faced another setback on Friday (17 Nov) as his bail plea was rejected, citing concerns of flight risk, weak ties to Singapore, and alleged existing charges in China for fraud.” Comment: I find the part “alleged existing charges in China for fraud” puzzling. By now, one would think through the Mutual Legal Aid Agreement, Singapore prosecutors would have written to check with their China counterparts on the legal status of each of the accused. Unless the MLAA was not signed between the two countries or not invoked. In any case, it looks like the prosecution is very adamant… Read more »

If the lawyer has studied the case and knows the client is guilty why would he or she not persuade the client to be remorseful and plead guilty. Only if the client is willing to plead guilty should the lawyer take the case. Otherwise, as a former Law President said I can only mitigate the length of jail term but not use the knowledge of the Law to get guilty clients freed. This law President has died but how many lawyers promise their clients the moon and the stars but cannot deliver at the end but bill their clients astronomical… Read more »

just take their money and deport them all back to commie china, can anot? this is a waste of our time and resources.

It’s crystal clear by changing legal representatives mid way, the one and only intention for the accused is to obtain bail and in the process go MIA after that.
There must be a lot that the investigating team is still struggling to find out, it’s no wonder the accused are getting frustrated. Not everyone likes curry in Changi. They still prefer Mala after all.

Must be feeling the heat intensifying now. Once they owned the world now not even enough $$ to foot lawyer fees. And it’s as clear as day the only reason they want bail is to find a way to scoot out of SG by any means. They lived off dirty money so much so ‘Honour’ means nothing to them.
The judge is somewhat right in denying them bail or the right of freedom.