Ewe Pang Kooi v Public Prosecutor

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChoo Han Teck J
Judgment Date02 February 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGHC 24
Citation[2015] SGHC 24
Defendant CounselNicholas Khoo and Leong Weng Tat (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Published date02 February 2015
Plaintiff CounselRamachandran Doraisamy Raghunath and Andrew Lee Weiming (Selvam LLC)
Hearing Date20 January 2015
Docket NumberCriminal Motion No 2 of 2015
Date02 February 2015
Subject MatterCriminal Procedure and Sentencing,Bail
Choo Han Teck J:

This was an application by the applicant for bail to be granted. The applicant has been in remand since 12 January 2015. He was charged with 693 charges which included the following: 22 counts under s 409 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) (“1985 Penal Code”) and 28 counts under s 409 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) (“2008 Penal Code”) for criminal breach of trust as an agent; 1 count under s 465 of the 1985 Penal Code and 182 counts under s 465 of the 2008 Penal Code for forgery; 2 counts under s 417 of the 2008 Penal Code for cheating; 236 counts under s 14(1)(a) of the Oaths and Declarations Act 2000 (Cap 38) for making false declarations; 178 counts under s 47(1)(b) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Cap 65A, 2000 Rev Ed) (“CDSA”) for transferring benefits of criminal conduct out of the jurisdiction; and 44 counts under s 47(1)(c) of the CDSA for using benefits of his criminal conduct at casinos.

It is not disputed that the applicant was charged for misappropriating S$40,622,169.79 and US$147,000. The District Court granted bail on 14 January 2015 in the sum of $4m. The prosecution has applied for the case to be transferred for trial in the High Court. Accordingly, the District Court set aside the bail on 15 January 2015. This application was filed on the same day to the High Court for bail to be granted under s 97 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 2012 Rev Ed).

Mr Doraisamy, counsel for the applicant, submits that the terms of the original bail were excessive. He submits that the proposed surety, Ms Lee Siew Hua, is a person of good standing but is only able to raise $1m. He was instructed only on 12 January 2015 when the applicant was charged and only managed to obtain the relevant documents on 14 January 2015. Counsel says that it is difficult for him to take instructions when the accused client is in remand, noting also, that the remand will be “for an unreasonable period of time before the case even proceeds to trial”.

Next, Mr Doraisamy argues that the applicant is not a flight risk. He says that the applicant, a 61-year old Malaysian, is now a permanent resident and “has deep roots in Singapore, having lived here for more than 30 years”. He has been adjudged a bankrupt and has no means to live abroad should he abscond. He has no family support because he is estranged from his wife and children who are living in Australia. They have been estranged for the past eight years. Most importantly, the applicant has been fully co-operative in investigations throughout the past two years and has continued to work in Singapore whilst investigations were ongoing. Furthermore, the applicant’s passport has been impounded.

DPP Nicholas Khoo, the prosecuting counsel, argues that the applicant faces “numerous non-bailable” offences and that being a person who “has no family roots in Singapore” and no unencumbered assets here, is a “real flight risk”. Counsel cites several cases of fraud involving large sums of money. First, in PP v Teo Cheng Kiat [2000] SGHC 129, the amount involved was $35m (with $24m recovered). Bail was fixed at $20m. The second, in PP v Lam Chen Fong [2002] 2 SLR(R) 599, the amount involved was $8.8m (with $905,000 recovered) in which bail was fixed at $9m, and third, in PP v Koh Seah Wee [2012] 1 SLR 292, the amount involved was $13m (with $9m recovered) and bail was fixed at $1.5m.

DPP Khoo submits that the amount involved in this case was S$40,622,169.79 and a further US$147,000. Only $17m was recovered. Counsel submits that $23m is unaccounted for and that the applicant is “an accountant by training and knows how to move money around”. He submits that the applicant has already admitted guilt in all his statements to the police. In reply, Mr Doraisamy says that the applicant “has no funds to move”.

This is not a complicated or difficult application but I have stood down the case to have written grounds delivered because I wish to address some of the matters raised.

First, it is common for counsel (as in this case) to argue whether the applicant is a “flight risk”, and then proceed to suggest the amount of bail that should be granted. I think that we should be clear on one basic point. Every person on bail is a “flight risk” to some extent but “flight risk” is now commonly used as a reference to a high degree of risk of absconding. This is not an accurate use. I think that if we determine that an applicant is a “flight risk”, then no bail should be granted at all.

Second, it seems like a good idea, in cases where the likelihood of flight is high, to fix bail at a sum so prohibitive that it is as good as denying bail. But that would be wrong. It is important to understand the...

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2 cases
  • Amarjeet Singh v PP
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 30 Marzo 2021
    ...3 SLR 201 (refd) Azman bin Jamaludin v PP [2012] 1 SLR 615 (refd) Bachoo Mohan Singh v PP [2010] 1 SLR 966 (refd) Ewe Pang Kooi v PP [2015] 2 SLR 672 (refd) Goh Kah Heng v PP [2009] 3 SLR(R) 409; [2009] 3 SLR 409 (refd) Haron bin Mundir v Singapore Amateur Athletic Association [1991] 2 SLR(......
  • Public Prosecutor v Benito Aloria Yap and others
    • Singapore
    • Magistrates' Court (Singapore)
    • 9 Junio 2021
    ...to each and every accused person who is eligible to be offered bail. As the High Court explained in Ewe Pang Kooi v Public Prosecutor [2015] SGHC 24 at [9]: It is important to understand the fundamental basis for bail. Presumption of innocence is a foundational justice. When a person is cha......
1 books & journal articles
  • Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Sentencing
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2015, December 2015
    • 1 Diciembre 2015
    ...2 SLR 678 (‘Ding SiYang’), Public Prosecutor v Yang Yin[2015] 2 SLR 78 (‘Yang Yin’) and Ewe Pang Kooi v Public Prosecutor[2015] 2 SLR 672 (‘Ewe Pang Kooi’). 14.13 The first of that trio of cases, Ding Si Yang, shed light on the principles that should apply for assessing bail applications pe......

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