Knight v Public Prosecutor

JudgeL P Thean J
Judgment Date06 March 1992
Neutral Citation[1992] SGHC 53
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 348/91/01
Date06 March 1992
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselHarry Elias (Harry Elias & Partners) and R Palakrishnan (Palakrishnan & Partners)
Citation[1992] SGHC 53
Defendant CounselTan Teow Yeow (Senior State Council) and Yang Ing Loong (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterCriminal Procedure and Sentencing,Attempted cheating,Whether custodial sentence appropriate,Criminal Law,Aggravating and mitigating factors considered,Two levels of criminality,ss 415 & 417 Penal Code (Cap 224),Offences,Sentencing,Prosecution's right to frame charge,s 6(c) Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241),Statement of facts outside scope of charge,Property,Deception,Words and Phrases,Accused can only be punished for offence with which he was charged and convicted,Principles,Cheating,'Other document'

Cur Adv Vult

The appellant pleaded guilty in the subordinate court to two charges. The first charge was that in October and November 1990, in furtherance of a common intention with one other person, he attempted to cheat one Ng Ser Miang by misrepresenting to the latter that an Indonesian company, PT Singa Jeya, had entered into an agreement to purchase a country club in Batam called Batam Fantasy Resort for the sum of S$10m and had paid S$2m to the vendors thereof with the intention of inducing Ng to invest S$3m in that club. The offence in that charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of six months or a fine or both. The second charge, which was totally unrelated to the first, was that in November 1989, he being an agent, namely, the Director of the Commercial Affairs Department, Ministry of Finance, knowingly used, with intent to deceive his principal, Jaspal Singh, the Director (Corporate and Regulatory Affairs), Ministry of Finance, a false vehicle invoice which stated that Ching Dtien Co had sold to him a Subaru Legacy motor car for $73,500 which was intended to mislead his principal into granting him a vehicle loan of $65,000. The offence in the second charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years or a maximum fine of $100,000 or both.

Before pleading guilty to the charges, the appellant admitted without qualification two statements of facts relating to them respectively.
With reference to the first charge, the facts admitted, in so far as material, were as follows. The appellant at all material times was the Director of the Commercial Affairs Department (`CAD`) of the Ministry of Finance, Singapore. In 1988, he and his wife started a car rental business on Batam Island and the business was operated at the premises of Batam Fantasy Resort (`the resort`). Later, they also started and operated a health centre and a lounge there. At that time, the resort was owned by an Indonesian company, PT Indo Cahaya Semesta, and was run by General Soedarsono Darmosoewito, the ex-governor of Batam Island and the chief executive of Batam Island Industrial Area Development Authority. The two businesses of the appellant and his wife were carried on at the premises of the resort under some arrangement made with General Soedarsono.

In August 1990, the appellant negotiated with General Soedarsono for the purchase of the resort, and an agreement was signed on 5 October 1990, whereby PT Singa Jeya agreed to purchase the resort from PT Indo Cahaya Semesta for S$3m which was payable in three instalments, namely, S$450,000 on the signing of the agreement, ie 5 October 1990, S$150,000 on 12 October 1990 and the balance of S$2.4m on 20 December 1990.
PT Singa Jeya was presumably owned by the appellant and his wife, as the two persons who signed the agreement on behalf of the company were employees of the appellant and his wife. The first two instalments totalling S$600,000 were duly paid; they were substantially funded by two investors in the project: one was Koh Ah Kim who provided S$400,000 and the other was Susan Jacob who provided S$120,000. The shortfall came from part of the overdraft facilities obtained by the appellant from a bank in Singapore.

Before the agreement was signed, the appellant was already looking for persons who would be interested to make a substantial investment in the resort.
One of the persons he approached was Ng Ser Miang (`Ng`), the managing director of Trans-Island Bus Services Ltd (`TIBS`) who was introduced to the appellant by his friend, Keith Tay of KPMG Peat Marwick. Keith Tay arranged for the appellant to meet Ng at a lunch at the Stables, Mandarin Hotel. Present at the lunch were also Bernard Tay, who is Keith Tay`s brother and the managing director of PB Packaging Systems, a fully-owned subsidiary of TIBS, and the appellant`s wife. Over lunch, the appellant told Ng that the total investment in the resort was S$10m and that he was looking for an investor to invest S$3m. Ng said he would like to have a feasibility study before considering investing in the resort. Thereafter, an arrangement was made for Ng to visit the resort.

On 17 November 1990, a Singapore company BIIMA Pte Ltd, was incorporated with the appellant`s wife and Susan Jacob as the directors.
The paid-up capital was initially $2 and was subsequently increased to $5m by an allotment and issue of further shares as follows: 400,000 shares to Koh Ah Kim; 1,749,999 shares to the appellant`s wife; 2.6m shares to one Michael Ashe; and 249,999 shares to Susan Jacob. Michael Ashe is a barrister in London who had worked with the appellant in various cases. He held the shares as nominee for the appellant.

On 10 December 1990, the appellant furnished a business plan of the resort to Bernard Tay who presumably transmitted it to Ng.
In the business plan it was misrepresented that PT Singa Jeya had entered into an agreement to purchase the resort for S$10m and that the company was entering into an arrangement with a group formed by the appellant`s wife to sell 80% stake in the resort for $8m. It was also misrepresented there that PT Singa Jeya had paid S$2m to the vendors of the resort and that BIIMA Pte Ltd had paid $5m `from shareholders` funds`.

BIIMA Pte Ltd had never paid S$5m to the vendors of the resort.
The amount which was actually paid to General Soedarsono was only S$3m in accordance with the sale agreement. The only two shareholders of BIIMA Pte Ltd who in fact paid sums of money towards the purchase of the resort were Koh Ah Kim who paid $400,000 and Susan Jacob who paid $250,000. The 1.75m shares allotted to the appellant`s wife and the 2.6m shares to Michael Ashe were not paid up at all.

On 17 December 1990, Ng instructed Bernard Tay to inform the appellant that TIBS would not be investing in the resort.

As regards the second charge,the material facts admitted by the appellant were these: In 1988, the appellant took a car loan of $50,000 from Ching Dtien Co, a second-hand car dealer, to purchase a second-hand BMW735iA motor car No EC8888C for $70,000.
Sometime in October 1989, the appellant asked one Jeffrey Woon Kai Ngen (`Woon`), the general manager of Motor Image Enterprises Pte Ltd (`Motor Image`), to help find a buyer for the certificate for the scrapping of his BMW motor car without the registration number. Woon found a buyer and the log book which was held by Ching Dtien Co was released to Woon on the understanding that Woon would settle the outstanding amount. In the following month, the appellant purchased from Motor Image a Subaru Legacy 1.8GL(A) motor car for $63,000. The appellant told Motor Image that he would be applying for a government loan. On 3 November 1989, the appellant submitted an application to the Permanent Secretary (Finance) for a loan of $65,000 for the purchase of the car; the vendor of that car was stated to be Ching Dtien Co. Later, Motor Image registered the Subaru Legacy purchased by the appellant and prepared an invoice to the government for $60,000. Some days later, however, Motor Image was informed by the appellant that he had decided to apply for a loan from a finance company. The appellant did apply to a finance company, namely, Focal Finance Ltd, and a loan of $61,000 was approved. In the meantime, CAD was informed by the Ministry of Finance that the appellant`s application for a loan of $65,000 was approved, and the appellant was required to produce the original vehicle invoice. He caused and procured Ching Dtien Co to make out an invoice showing that the purchase price of the Subaru car was $73,500, of which a deposit of $8,500 had been paid leaving a balance of $65,000. That invoice was false. On the basis of that invoice, Jaspal Singh, Director (Budget) of the Ministry of Finance, approved the release of the loan of $65,000 on 17 November 1989, and a cheque for $65,000 was issued to Ching Dtien Co. The cheque was handed by the appellant to Ching Dtien Co in settlement of his loan and interest amounting to $51,000 and the balance of $14,000 was returned to the appellant.

On the basis of these facts, which were admitted by him, his pleas of guilty to the two charges were accepted and he was convicted.
He was sentenced in respect of the first charge to a term of imprisonment of two months and in respect of the second charge to a term of imprisonment of one month, both terms to run consecutively. In totality, the term of imprisonment was three months for the two offences. Against both the sentences, this appeal has been brought.

It is helpful at this stage to set out, in so far as relevant, the text of the first charge, which is as follows:

You, Knight Glenn Jeyasingam, are charged that you, in the months of October and November 1990, at the Stables, Mandarin Hotel and elsewhere in Singapore and in Batam Island, in furtherance of your common intention with one other person, did attempt to cheat one Ng Ser Miang, ... and in such attempt did misrepresent to the said Ng Ser

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55 cases
  • Chua Kian Kok v Public Prosecutor
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    • High Court (Singapore)
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4 books & journal articles
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2020, December 2020
    • 1 December 2020
    ...(see para 4 above). 57 Public Prosecutor v Prem Hirubalan [2016] SGHC 156 at [2]; Knight Glenn Jeyasingam v Public Prosecutor [1992] 1 SLR(R) 523 at [24]. 58 Public Prosecutor v Tay Sheo Tang Elvilin [2011] 4 SLR 206; Bachoo Mohan Singh v Public Prosecutor [2009] 3 SLR(R) 1037; Chan Kum Hon......
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1998, December 1998
    • 1 December 1998
    ...pleaded guilty, he appealed against sentence passed by the District Court. The appeal in the 1991 criminal proceedings is reported at [1992] 1 SLR 720. 3 The basis for the application was that it was an abuse of process for a prosecution to be maintained in regard to offences in respect of ......
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 1992, December 1992
    • 1 December 1992
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2002, December 2002
    • 1 December 2002
    ...Magnus SDJ (PS 3812/2000, PS 3813/2000, PS 3814/2000 & PS 3815/2000). 21 [1986] SLR 401. 22 [1986] SLR 401 at 406. 23 [1988] SLR 421. 24 [1992] 1 SLR 720. 25 [1980—1] SLR 293 (HC): PP v Choudhury[1980—81] SLR 146 (CA). 26 [1972—74] SLR 429. 27 Unreported: DAC 32241—2/2000; DAC 32285/2000; D......

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