SINGAPORE: Karl Liew, the son of ex-Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, has been investigated for potential criminal offences including perjury, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told Parliament on Wednesday (Nov 4).
“Karl has been investigated as to whether he committed any criminal offence, including perjury,” Mr Shanmugam said in his minsterial statement on the case of former Indonesian maid Parti Liyani.
READ: Parti Liyani seeks compensation order for theft trial, says she suffered losses of about S$71,000
“The investigations have been completed. A statement will be announced later this evening based on the investigations.”
Perjury in this case is giving false evidence to the court.
Ms Parti had been convicted in March last year by a lower court of stealing S$34,000 from Mr Liew and his family, but the conviction was overturned by the High Court on Sep 4.
In Justice Chan Seng Onn's judgment, the judge outlined several issues with the conviction findings and how the case was handled.
In particular, the High Court highlighted the evidence that Karl gave and said it was unreliable, Mr Shanmugam said, adding that the court gave little weight to it.
The High Court found issues with Karl’s testimony regarding several items supposedly belonging to him. These items were in the second charge given to Ms Parti.
For instance, the High Court said he did not clearly identify some pieces of clothing, like a black dress as having been in his possession, and had difficulties with other items of clothing, such as a red blouse.
“The High Court found Karl’s claim that he wore women’s T-shirts suspect,” Mr Shanmugam said.
When Karl Liew testified that a Gucci wallet and a Braun Buffel wallet belonged to him and were gifts from his family, none of his family members could recall giving him those wallets, Mr Shanmugam said.
READ: Chief Justice grants investigation into Parti Liyani's complaint of misconduct against prosecutors
“The High Court disbelieved his evidence and thought he was being untruthful,” he said.
The High Court did not believe his evidence that said a Helix watch was a gift from his father, Mr Shanmugam said, adding that Mr Liew has denied having owned such an item.
“Karl agreed that a pink knife that he had earlier said he had purchased before 2002 was likely manufactured after that date,” Mr Shanmugam said.
“The High Court said this affected Karl’s credibility and his claim to ownership.”
Mr Shanmugam said the High Court also did not believe Karl’s evidence that said he had bought a bedsheet from Habitat in the UK, pointing out that the Court said Karl had “fabricated his testimony”.
“The bedsheet had the same pattern as a quilt cover which had an IKEA label,” Mr Shanmugam said. “Karl’s wife, Heather, also testified that she had never seen the bedsheet in her room on on her bed.”
Arising from this case, Mr Shanmugam said the Attorney-General's Chambers has decided that hereafter, it will “seriously consider” whether there should be further investigations or proceedings into serious offences identified in findings issued in the course of legal proceedings.
The minister said Karl has given statements on the whether the items highlighted by the High Court had been in his possession, and his explanations for his “inconsistencies” regarding these items during trial.
READ: Changi Airport Group chairman suspected maid of stealing for years, but tolerated her behaviour
Mr Shamugam said Karl gave "inconsistent answers" in some areas, and in some instances, the testimony of one of the Liews was either contradicted or "at variance" with the evidence of another family member.
“There are many aspects of Karl’s conduct and evidence ... which are highly unsatisfactory, which raise scepticism, based on what he said at the trial,” he said. “He appeared not to be a credible witness.”
Mr Shanmugam pointed out that there was some debate on the value of some of the items, saying that expert witness had stated that some of the watches were either counterfeit or of no value.
"This testimony was not directly contradicted," he said.
Mr Shanmugam said the defence also put in some articles on dumpster diving, suggesting that expensive items like branded bags do get disposed of in the trash in Singapore.
"The argument is that Ms Liyani could have found, for example, the Prada bag and jewellery which (Mr Liew’s daughter) May says were hers, in the trash," he added.
When filing a police report, Mr Shanmugam said making claims to items needs to be taken seriously.
“It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive account, but it must be done with careful consideration,” he stated.
“Looking at the evidence, the impression one gets is that there seems to have been a cavalier attitude on the part of the Liews, in the way some items were identified as belonging to them, and in the way values were ascribed to some items.”