Ex-lawyer, 70, who misappropriated over $450,000 from clients, gets 47 months' jail

A 70-year-old former lawyer was sentenced to 47 months’ jail on Jan 25 for misappropriating nearly $460,000 entrusted to him and for preparing a court document for another person as an advocate and solicitor even though he was struck off the rolls.

Singapore citizen Gurdaib Singh Pala Singh was convicted on July 19 after pleading guilty to two counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of preparing a document for a proceeding in the courts of Singapore while being an unauthorised person.

Singh was a lawyer practising with the firm Gurdaib Cheong & Partners in December 2011.

His client entrusted him with $138,876 in the way of his business as an attorney. Gurdaib Singh was to disburse the money only upon the client’s instructions.

But the lawyer dishonestly misappropriated the funds by using them to pay for matters unrelated to the client, such as his law firm’s office expenses and other clients’ transactions. This was done without the client’s knowledge or approval.

Singh did the same with $320,000 entrusted to him by another client in November 2014.

He was struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court on Feb 27, 2018.

Despite this, in October 2019, Gurdaib Singh acted as an advocate or solicitor for a man in divorce proceedings by preparing an affidavit for use at a court hearing.

Singh did not tell him that he had been struck off the rolls earlier.

Between Sept 7 and 27, 2019, the man paid him $1,750, reported The Straits Times.

The following month, Singh sent the man a draft affidavit that the former lawyer had prepared, and it was later filed with the courts.

Afterwards, Singh did not provide the man with any updates on the matter.

On Jan 12, 2020, the man asked Singh for a full refund as he no longer wanted his services.

Singh has since returned $1,000 to him.