Lawyer ‘ran off with RM23m’

  • AseanPlus News
  • Thursday, 08 Jun 2006

THE owner of a law firm is suspected of absconding with more than S$10mil (RM23.1mil) of clients’ money in what could be the largest case of misappropriation by a lawyer in Singapore.  

David Rasif, who heads David Rasif & Partners, is suspected of having fled the country.  

He was last seen having lunch with a colleague on Friday, and staff at the firm believe he left for a short Bangkok holiday with his wife that day. It is understood that his wife, Joyce Fong, returned on Monday night, but Rasif did not, and remains uncontactable.  

According to a statement issued by the firm on Tuesday, lawyers at the firm lodged a report with the Law Society after they found “irregularities” and could not contact Rasif.  

These “irregularities” turned out to involve large sums of money withdrawn from the firm’s clients’ account.  

It is understood that the missing money is the proceeds from a conveyancing deal Rasif told one of his lawyers not to complete. Completing the transaction would have meant the money would have to be returned either into the clients’ account or directly to them.  

The Law Society also swung into action on Tuesday. It issued a statement saying it received information on Monday that caused its council to “suspect dishonesty” on Rasif’s part and referred the case to the police. The Commercial Affairs Department is investigating.  

The firm said the Law Society’s intervention means that its staff and lawyers’ employment had been terminated “with immediate effect.”  

The firm comprises three lawyers, a part-time consultant and seven non-legal staff.  

Staff were seen taking away their belongings from the firm’s office on Tuesday.  

Several cartons containing documents were also carted from the office, and these were later brought to the Law Society’s premises.  

About five clients turned up throughout the day, only to be confronted by a Law Society notice taped onto the wooden door.  

It advised law firms with any dealings with David Rasif & Partners to contact the Law Society, and assured all clients that active files would be returned to them.  

The case is the first since new measures enforced last year on sole proprietorship law firms made it mandatory for any withdrawal of S$5,000 (RM11,558) or more of clients’ money to require two signatories.  

Before this incident, the largest amount misappropriated by a lawyer was S$5.6mil (RM12.9mil). This occurred in 2003 when lawyer Tan Cheng Yew, 35, apparently fled the country with his clients’ money placed in trust funds. – The Straits Times / Asia News Network  

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