Ex-lawyer jailed for pocketing over $31,000 in legal fees from clients
A former lawyer was jailed for 27 months yesterday after he took his clients' legal fees to pay for his personal expenses.
Zaminder Singh Gill, a former lawyer from Hilborne Law, pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal breach of trust as an attorney, with another 10 charges taken into consideration.
Gill, 57, had pocketed more than $31,000 from his clients and also failed to register the clients with the firm.
The court heard that Gill was called to the Singapore bar in 2005 and was a legal associate at Hilborne between 2016 and 2019.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew said Gill's offences came to light only following complaints by his clients.
In 2018, one of the victims had engaged Gill as she was under investigation for some offences.
In May and June last year, she entrusted $4,000 in legal fees to him, which he misappropriated instead of depositing it into Hilborne's client account.
In July last year, she tried to contact Gill for an update on her case but was unable to reach him.
She was then told by his company that he was overseas.
She later tried to contact him several times but to no avail and was later informed by Hilborne that he had been terminated.
Between July and August last year, at least three people had lodged police reports against Gill for failing to attend to their legal matters.
On July 18 last year, a representative from Hilborne lodged a police report against Gill and stated that several people had contacted the firm claiming they had engaged him as their lawyer and paid him legal fees.
DPP Chew said: "However, the Hilborne representative informed that these persons were not recorded in Hilborne's client register, and the monies collected were not deposited into Hilborne's client or office accounts."
Gill was arrested after he returned to Singapore from Thailand in October last year.
His lawyer, Mr R. Shiever, said Gill had used the money for his family in Thailand, where his partner, stepson and son live.
The DPP asked for at least 27 months' jail, arguing thatGill had committed grave offences and did not make any restitution.