Lawyer Absconds with $68,000 From Property Sale

Old Supreme Court Singapore, credits to gawdnd
Former Supreme Court. Photo credit to gawdnd, Flickr

Mr. David Khong (42) was found missing after accepting the exercise money from his client Mr. Brian Loo for a 2.2 million dollar apartment in Kim Seng Walk.

TWO men meet discreetly in a dark carpark of an obscure building, and money changes hands. One man passes the other $20,000, promising that the rest of the $88,000 will be handed over later. The man disappears, and the $68,000 is never handed over.

This happened at the carpark of Kim Seng Plaza one Friday night in August 2007. The missing man: lawyer David Khong, 42, who met his client, Mr

Brian Loo, to confess that he had swiped the latter’s $88,000 deposit. He even gave Mr Loo a note, acknowledging that he had committed a crime by taking the money. A day after the meeting, though, Mr Khong had already skipped town.

On Monday, a Disciplinary Tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice published its report recommending that Mr Khong be tried by a Court of Three Judges for professional misconduct.

The tribunal, the first set up since the laws were changed late last year to reduce the composition of the tribunal from four to two members, was made up of former judicial commissioner Goh Joon Seng and lawyer Harish Kumar. Mr S. Wijaya prosecuted the case for the Law Society… More on Law Watch

In such case, Mr. Brian Loo is still protected by the Law Society to claim the absconded amount to complete the sale.

What about New Condominium or Projects That Are Still Under Construction?

Unlike a resale of an apartment which you typically go through the process of exercising an option or going into a sales & purchase agreement governed by the Law Society of Singapore’s Condition of Sale 1999, developers are governed by the The Housing Developers (Control and Licensing) Act 1970

The Minister for National Development in August 1981 introduced a Project Account Scheme to regulate the use of the monies paid by purchasers to developers.

The Project Account is guaranteed by a Financial company or a bank throughout the phase of building till completion (till the development achieves Certification of Statutory Completion (CSC) after 1 – 2 years of Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP) granted)

The Controller of Housing roles are:-

  • to issue Housing Developer’s Licences to developers who wish to carry out developments with more than 4 housing units;
  • to approve amendments to the prescribed Sale and Purchase Agreements;
  • to ensure proper withdrawal of money from Project Accounts; and
  • to issue Qualifying Certificates to foreign developers to purchase land for residential development.

Thus developers have gone through stringent checks by relevant authorities before being issued with the licence to build and sell their projects.

What happens to the Project Account should the Developer Goes Bankrupt?

Under the Housing Development Act,

(5) Subject to subsection (6) (b), all moneys in the Project Account shall, notwithstanding any other written law to the contrary, be deemed not to form part of the property of the licensed housing developer in the event —

(a) the licensed housing developer enters into any composition or arrangement with his creditors or has a receiving order or adjudication order made against him; or

(b) the licensed housing developer, being a company, goes into voluntary or compulsory liquidation.

So to foreigners who are investing in Singapore, the government takes special care of your money to make sure that your deposits with the developers are guaranteed safe stage by stage through the building process of your new apartment.

Written by Benson Koh
Benson is a professional real estate realtor with over 11 years of experience specializing in all forms of real estate consultancy and brokeraging of different segments from regal homes to commercial spaces. Also a boutique developer, he manages both SRI5000 Developments which concentrates on landed homes as part of his land bank segment and Singapore Realtors Inc (SRI), a real estate agency which has over 7 years of group experience. You can reach him here via various channels. [ Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter | RSS Feed ]