Former Lawyer Jailed Four Years In Jail for Duping Client and Using Over S$527K on Personal Expenses

Former lawyer gets 4 years' jail for misappropriating more than S$527,000 from client Pixabay

A former lawyer, who siphoned around S$527,000 (US$386,900) from a client, was sentenced to four years and four months' jail with effect from Jun 18, 2024, on Friday, May 3. The court has also ordered Soraya Hafsa Ibrahim to pay a fine of S$5,000.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a news release on Friday that if she does not pay the fine, she will have to serve an additional 10 days in prison.

The 58-year-old woman, who used the money for her personal expenses and debt repayments, had pleaded guilty on April 22 to two counts of aggravated criminal breach of trust and one count of preparing papers while being unauthorized. One other charge of aggravated criminal breach of trust was taken into consideration during her sentencing.

Soraya Aware of Her Client's Mental Incapacity

Soraya was the sole lawyer and proprietor of Soraya H Ibrahim & Co. In 2019, she had a client who needed help with managing his dead mother's estate, including a Housing Board flat, an insurance policy scheme and bank accounts.

According to SPF, the convicted lawyer arranged for the opening of an estate bank account for the client, to be operated by the 34-year-old client, who was deemed to have borderline intellectual functioning, as the sole signatory. However, the Institute of Mental Health assessed the man to be fit to be an administrator of his late mother's estate.

Soraya was completely aware of her client's mental incapacity and prepared and asked her client to sign cash cheques issued from the estate bank account between May 10, 2019, and May 31, 2019.

The client, who trusted Soraya signed all these checks as he believed that the signing of such checks was for the proper administration of the estate and handed those to the lawyer. He also entrusted Soraya as his attorney with a total sum of S$527,002.32.

Misappropriated Funds to Pay for Personal Expenses

However, the funds were misused by Soraya who misappropriated those to pay for her personal expenses, including credit card bills as well as debts to banks, friends and relatives.

The police told CNA, "Soraya eventually made full restitution to the client, most of which was paid pursuant to a court order obtained by the client in a civil suit."

On Jan 20, 2020, Soraya was disbarred for a matter separate to her criminal charges. Surprisingly, she prepared papers for an application for the grant of letters of administration for another client despite it. For this, she was paid S$10,000.

However, the amount was returned to the client after the police started investigating the matter.

In Singapore, criminal breach of trust as an attorney carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine, while a first-time offender can be fined up to S$10,000 or, in default of payment, jailed for up to three months for preparing legal documents while unauthorized.

Related topics : Singapore crime