Lawyer fined $7,000 over blogger case

Lawyer M. Ravi, a Reform Party's (RP) candidate for the Ang Mo Kio GRC, speaking at the RP rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Sept 4, 2015.
Lawyer M. Ravi, a Reform Party's (RP) candidate for the Ang Mo Kio GRC, speaking at the RP rally at Yio Chu Kang Stadium on Sept 4, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

M. Ravi admits failing to forward money that activist gave him, denigrating him in video

Lawyer M. Ravi was handed $7,000 in penalties by a disciplinary tribunal after he admitted to denigrating activist blogger Roy Ngerng in a video clip and failing to forward $29,000 from Mr Ngerng to a third party.

A disciplinary tribunal appointed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and comprising Senior Counsel Chan Leng Sun and lawyer Ronald Choo accepted that Mr Ravi was afflicted with bipolar disorder then, noting there was " some evidence" he had been on medication.

But it made clear that such mitigating factors did not "completely exonerate" him. "His conduct was not acceptable," it said in decision grounds released yesterday.

Mr Ravi, 45, had then been acting for Mr Ngerng in a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, represented by Drew & Napier.

He acknowledged that Mr Ngerng had given him $29,000 in January last year to be paid to Drew & Napier in compliance with court orders made in the suit. He failed to do this and, about 10 days later, returned the cash to Mr Ngerng, telling him to pay Drew & Napier himself.

Five days later, Mr Ravi in a video clip spoke against Mr Ngerng, alleging among other things that Mr Ngerng sought to leave the country with monies which belonged to the public in a "legal fund".

His lawyers Eugene Thuraisingam and Suang Wijaya argued that his bipolar disorder relapse should excuse him, adding that there was no dishonesty or deceit on his part.

Lawyers Sean La'Brooy and Michelle Chua prosecuted for the Law Society and psychiatrist Tommy Tan confirmed that Mr Ravi's relapse mitigated his misconduct.

Mr Ravi, currently a non-practising lawyer, was ordered to pay $2,000 for the misconduct charge and $5,000 as penalty for his improper utterances in the video clip.

Separately, three senior lawyers face disciplinary action before the Court of Three Judges for professional misconduct following two separate tribunal probes. The court is the apex body to deal with professional misconduct by lawyers.

Lawyers Sum Chong Mun and Kay Swee Tuan were implicated in a case involving the issue of a certificate for a lasting power of attorney in which the former had not personally witnessed the signature of the donor on the document.

Ms Kay, who retired last year, had asked Mr Sum to sign as witness to the donor's signature, which had already been pre-affixed.

Lawyer S. Udeh Kumar was referred to the three-judge court by a tribunal comprising Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan and lawyer Tan Gee Tuan for being "a serial offender of wasting expense and the Court's time" and ordered to pay $25,000 in relation to two other charges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Lawyer fined $7,000 over blogger case'. Print Edition | Subscribe