Singapore

Man fined $26,000 for impersonating a lawyer

The sole director of a business and management consultancy services firm has never been a qualified lawyer.

However, Keith Thaddeus Kamal Tsukada, who runs IP Firm, acted as a solicitor for a client by preparing a sale and purchase agreement, even though he was not authorised to do so.

Despite lacking the necessary credentials, the Singaporean, now 43, also sent letters on behalf of his other clients, threatening legal action.

He was fined $26,000 on Thursday (Sept 14) after pleading guilty to four offences under the Legal Profession Act. Two other charges for similar offences were taken into consideration during sentencing.

He committed the offences between May 2014 and June 2015.

Tsukada is also the sole registered director of research firm Invictus Intelligence Bureau.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin said: "The accused had wilfully used descriptions on the websites of the said companies, implying that IP Firm is qualified to act as a solicitor when, in fact, IP Firm is not."

The DPP said the company's website had statements such as "you are not just hiring a lawyer - but an innovative team specialising in the areas of law" and "we ensure the right legislative provision is put to use expeditiously".

In May 2014, Mr Narinder Singh Massa Singh engaged the services of IP Firm to claim money owed to him, purportedly for a loan extended to a woman.

Later that month, Tsukada acted on behalf of Mr Singh and sent the woman a letter, demanding payment and threatening legal proceedings.

The letter had "IP Arbitration and Litigation" on its letterhead.

Mr Singh paid Tsukada $24,580 for his services.

On Sept 3, 2014, the woman made a report to the Law Society of Singapore after getting the letter.

The Commercial Affairs Department later investigated the case.

Tsukada committed a similar offence in January 2015.

He acted on behalf of general contractor Hong Hill to send a letter demanding payment from Heng Yu Concrete; Hong Hill paid Tsukada $23,400.

In late March 2015, Tsukada also acted as a solicitor for Mr Gu Yue to draft and prepare a sale and purchase agreement for the purchase of a company. Mr Gu was under the impression that Tsukada was a qualified lawyer.

DPP Chin said: "The accused had used a template obtained from a law firm to prepare the said agreement and was paid $2,000."

He urged District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan to fine Tsukada $32,000 and stressed that members of the public need to be protected as Tsukada is not a qualified lawyer.

The company director's lawyer, Mr Francis Goh, asked for his client to be fined $14,000 and said that Tsukada did not "deliberately attempt to take on the mantle of the legal profession".

Offenders convicted of acting as an advocate or solicitor without authorisation can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $25,000.

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