Lawyer jailed five years for siphoning $650k from a client

A lawyer was jailed for five years on Tuesday for siphoning $650,000 belonging to a client. Fun Huay Yew, 43, had admitted to criminal breach of trust of the amount entrusted to him by his former client, Toshiba Machine S.E. Asia.

A district court heard that he was engaged by Toshiba to sue Reliance Plastic in Malaysia for non-payment of machines ordered in 1999. Following an injunction granted, Toshiba seized the machines and sold them for $650,000.

Reliance counter-sued for wrongful action in the Malaysian High Court. The $650,000 was then held by Fun as a stakeholder pending the outcome of the civil suit. On Sept 18, 2001, a cheque for $650,000 was deposited into the client account. The next day, Fun withdrew the money and placed it in a fixed deposit account.

One day before the fixed deposit was due to mature, Fun instructed the bank to return the $650,000 to the client account. He withdrew the amount and deposited in the firm's office account.

Over a period of six months, the office account was emptied across 20 transactions. He fled Singapore in March 2003, and was arrested in Malaysia almost a decade later. Fun, whose sentence was backdated to Nov 30, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.