Lawyer found guilty of pocketing clients' $12,900

A lawyer was found guilty of six counts of criminal breach of trust of $12,900 and pretending that she was authorised to act as an advocate and solicitor.

Selena Chiong Chin May, 41, a lawyer of 18 years' standing, was convicted by District Judge Salina Ishak after a seven-day trial of misappropriating various sums of money ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 paid to her four clients of the law firm C.H. Chan & Company. The offences took place when she was working in the firm as an associate from April 21 to June 16, 2010.

Chiong's defence is that the payments were made to her in her personal capacity and not as an agent of the firm.

The Legal Profession Act (LPA) charge states that she acted for a client in a divorce suit on May 9, 2010. Her practising certificate had expired on March 30 that year. It was not renewed until May 17 the same year.

The prosecution asked for the case to be adjourned to make submissions on sentence and to give its position on a stood-down criminal breach of trust charge of $2,500 belonging to a fifth client.

Chiong, who is no longer in practice, said she would be appealing.

The case was adjourned to June 10.

She could be jailed for up to 15 years and fined on each charge of criminal breach of trust as a servant. Under the LPA, the maximum penalty is a $25,000 fine and six months' jail.