Judge rejects remandee's bid to avoid lawsuit proceedings

Man held for cheating must go to court over suit by ex-mum-in-law

A district judge took a dim view of a remandee who refused to be taken to court in a bid to stymie civil proceedings involving his former mother-in-law.

Lim Chit Foo, 33, had been arrested, charged and remanded for cheating offences relating to the Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme last November. This happened halfway through a civil suit in which Madam Xu Ping sought the return of a $180,000 loan.

Lim was not offered bail by the prosecution for the 39 counts of cheating and related offences as he was alleged to have been tampering with witnesses, District Judge Chiah Kok Khun noted.

When the second round of hearings involving Madam Xu's suit came up last month, Lim told his lawyer not to apply for an order to take him out of prison to give evidence.

He provided no reason for his decision and told his lawyer to apply to adjourn the case until he was granted bail.

"I take a dim view of Lim's attempt to frustrate Madam Xu's claim against him," said the judge, who rejected Lim's application to vacate the trial and ordered the hearing to proceed.

Lim was married to Madam Xu's daughter, Ms Cai Ying, in 2009, but the couple split two years later when she discovered he was having an extramarital affair.

Madam Xu's case argued that Lim had acknowledged a $180,000 loan in a deed and a memorandum dated March 22, 2011.

He had used the money to buy a condominium unit meant as the couple's home.

Madam Xu, a businesswoman, sued him. But Lim denied the loan and claimed he did not need financial help to buy the unit.

He claimed that his signatures on the documents had been forged.

The court had heard evidence by handwriting experts who were cross-examined during the first tranche of hearings in October last year.

Judge Chiah found that Lim's expert witness, Mr William Pang, had not shown "good basis for saying there are significant and fundamental differences between the questioned signatures and the specimen signatures".

The judge said: "The differences in the specimen signatures when compared with the questioned signatures pointed out by Pang are not seen in all the specimen signatures."

He preferred the expert opinion of Mr Yap Bei Sing, consultant forensic scientist of the Health Sciences Authority, who testified that "the features of the questioned signatures fall within the range of natural variations seen in specimen signatures".

The judge found that Lim's claim of forgery was unsupported by the expert evidence.

He added that it was "telling" that for more than four years, Lim had allowed a caveat lodged on the property by Madam Xu - after the loan documents were signed in 2011 - to remain. The judge said this suggested Lim acknowledged his indebtedness to Madam Xu.

"I found (Madam Xu) has proven her case on a balance of probability," Judge Chiah said, in judgment grounds issued on Monday.

Lim is appealing the case.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Judge rejects remandee's bid to avoid lawsuit proceedings'. Print Edition | Subscribe