Jail for man who tried to discontinue divorce proceedings by fabricating evidence

Mak Wai Kong leaving the State Courts on Sept 14, 2021. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - In a bid to protect his assets, a man tried to discontinue divorce proceedings that his wife at the time had started against him by creating a false decree purportedly from the United States stating that the marriage had already been dissolved.

The court heard that Mak Wai Kong, now 45, committed the offence so that his assets would not be divided.

On Friday (Dec 3), Mak was sentenced to 11 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of fabricating false evidence and one of an unrelated mischief charge involving a mobile camera installed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) that he damaged with a hammer.

Senior District Judge Bala Reddy also ordered Mak to pay nearly $1,100 in compensation, which was the cost to replace the damaged parts of the device.

The Singaporean's plans to stop the divorce proceedings crumbled when, in July 2018, District Judge Michelle Elias alerted the deputy director of the legal registry of the Family Justice Courts (FJC) of Singapore that the documents received were possibly fraudulent.

The couple officially divorced on Sept 10, 2018.

The divorce proceedings against him started on Jan 11, 2018.

On July 1 that year, the FJC's legal registry received an e-mail, purportedly from Mak's wife.

It stated: "As attached is the divorce jurisdiction from Oregon Judicial Department, Multnomah County Courthouse, Oregon.

"I have successfully completed my divorce proceeding together with my former husband. Your Family Justice Court in Singapore may use this decree of divorce to close this case from your end wef (with effect from) today."

The e-mail came with a set of documents comprising a copy of a purported decree of divorce and a cover letter from one "William R. King" from the "Law Office of William S. Orth, P.A.".

On Friday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Huo Jiongrui said: "The decree of divorce stated that the marriage between (the couple) had been terminated and dissolved by the Oregon Judicial Department since June 18, 2018, and that ancillary orders had been made... that the accused's place of residence... and (the woman's) real estate assets in China and the US were not to be divided."

Details about Mak's home have been redacted from court documents.

The next day, Mak filed an e-copy of the documents on e-litigation - an online platform used in court cases.

Judge Elias alerted the deputy director of the FJC's legal registry on July 3, 2018.

A special case conference took place the next day and the counsel for Mak's then wife was shown the documents. The counsel felt that the documents were fakes and an FJC officer alerted the police on July 20 that year.

The court heard that investigations revealed that Mak was the one who sent the e-mail with the documents.

DPP Huo said: "He admitted that he had obtained samples of divorce court documents from the Internet and amended the details.

"The accused admitted that he had used the name of a real law firm based in the US and a courthouse based in Oregon in the documents because (his then wife) had property in Oregon, in the US."

Separately, on Feb 29 last year, Mak used a hammer to repeatedly strike the mobile camera at the foot of his Housing Board block in Canberra Street.

NEA had earlier installed the device to catch high-rise litterbugs and it was aimed at Mak's flat as well as two units directly below it.

This was because the agency had received complaints of high-rise littering of cigarette butts suspected to have been committed by residents of the three units.

Mak's act of mischief caused the camera's aim to be shifted away. Its cover and lens were damaged and had to be replaced.

When caught later, he admitted to investigators that he "just did not like" the camera.

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