Lawyers and client charged with trying to obstruct justice by alerting contraband cigarette syndicate
SINGAPORE: Two lawyers and one of their clients were charged on Thursday (Sep 10) with attempting to obstruct justice by sending messages that would alert a syndicate to clear its premises of contraband cigarettes.
The client purportedly alerted his defence counsel to alert the syndicate to clear its premises, and the lawyer allegedly sent a message to his boss about it, who then forwarded the message to another man.
The accused are: Selva Kumar Subramaniam, 42, his then-lawyer Wee Hong Shern 33, and Wee's then-boss Ong Peng Boon, 64.
At the time of the alleged offence, Wee worked under Ong, who was the managing director of law firm Ong & Co, Wee told CNA. Wee has since set up his own law firm.
According to charge sheets, Selva gave information to his defence counsel Wee between 10am and 11.51am at the State Courts on May 10 last year.
This information was allegedly related to investigations by the Singapore Customs, and Selva allegedly asked Wee to alert a syndicate dealing with contraband cigarettes to clear its premises of the cigarettes.
At 11.52am, Wee allegedly sent the following message to his then-boss, Ong: "I talked to An Boon to update. Basically: Buffalo is busted. Factory is safe for now but he warns it's only a matter of time before they find out where it is as they have the SD cars of Ah Boon's vehicle. They can trace Buffalo and find factory eventually. So he said to clear everything from factory ASAP."
He added: "Evidence has come out that ST has been paid by China man. His Zello phone was seized and he didn't have time to delete convos. Bail opened at 55K."
At 11.53am, Ong allegedly forwarded this message to a person named Tan Hock Ann. Charge sheets did not state who this person is.
The chain of messages allegedly were an attempt to intentionally obstruct the course of justice by alerting the purported syndicate to clear its premises of cigarettes.
Wee told CNA shortly after being charged that he would be claiming trial.
"We have always acted with our client's best interests," he said, adding that client-solicitor privilege "has been broken".
If convicted of attempting to obstruct the course of justice, the men could be jailed for up to seven years, fined, or both.