Singapore High Court Verdict Against EFG Bank Employees

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
[2019] SGHC 10
HC/Suit No 1109 of 2018
(HC/Summons No 5490 of 2018)
Between
Lyu Yan @ Lu Yan
… Plaintiff
And
(1) Lim Tien Chiang
(2) Ang Jian Sheng Jonathan
(3) Lim ZhengDe
… Defendants
JUDGMENT
[Civil Procedure] — [Injunctions]
This judgment is subject to final editorial corrections approved by the
court and/or redaction pursuant to the publisher’s duty in compliance
with the law, for publication in LawNet and/or the Singapore Law
Reports.
Lyu Yan @ Lu Yan
v
Lim Tien Chiang and others
[2019] SGHC 10
High Court — HC/Suit No 1109 of 2018 (HC/Summons No 5490 of 2018)
Choo Han Teck J
16 January 2019
22 January 2019 Judgment reserved.
Choo Han Teck J:
1 The plaintiff opened a private wealth account with BNP Paribas
Singapore (“BNP”). She wanted to transfer US$3m equivalent in RMB from
her personal RMB account in China to one of her personal bank accounts in
Singapore. BNP was unable to undertake that transaction and referred the
plaintiff to the first defendant who was an employee of EFG Bank AG (“EFG”).
2 The plaintiff contacted the first defendant and that resulted in a
successful placement of US$3m from the plaintiff’s personal RMB account in
China to her Credit Suisse bank account in Singapore (the “First Tranche”). For
the First Tranche, the first defendant utilised the remittance services of PT Niaga
Lestari Remittance (“PT Niaga”), an Indonesian company.
3 Thereafter the plaintiff wanted to effect a second transfer, also in
US$3m, to her BNP bank account in Singapore (the “Second Tranche”). As PT
Lyu Yan v Lim Tien Chiang [2019] SGHC 10
2
Niaga was not ready to effect this Second Tranche, the first defendant sought
the remittance services of the third defendant, who was an ex-colleague of his.
This time, the first defendant gave the plaintiff four bank accounts for her to
deposit the equivalent of US$3m in RMB.
4 Two of the four accounts were in the name of the second defendant and
one in the name of the third defendant. The fourth account was in the name of
one Kang Tie Tie (“Kang”). The second and third defendants admitted that they
gave their account numbers to the first defendant for the transfer of money from
the plaintiff. They deny knowledge of Kang’s account.
5 The RMB equivalent of US$3m were deposited into the four accounts
by the plaintiff on 16 October 2018. The money was subsequently remitted to a
person known only as “Allan”. “Allan” is an unlicensed money changer in
China, and was the contact of the second and third defendants. That was the last
the plaintiff saw of her US$3m.
6 The plaintiff sued the defendants for misrepresentation, fraud, and
unjust enrichment. By this summons, she sought to enjoin the assets of all three
defendants, including their bank accounts. When the plaintiff discovered that
the money was gone, she had discussions with the first and third defendants to
find out where it had gone. When it became clear to her that it was gone and her
instructions of transferring the money to her BNP bank account were not carried
out, she filed a writ against the three defendants and an application for an order
for injunction against them. The writ was filed on 1 November 2018 and this
summons on 21 November 2018 and the summons was fixed for hearing on
16 January 2019.
7 The first defendant denies any liability and claims that he does not know
Lyu Yan v Lim Tien Chiang [2019] SGHC 10
3
“Allan”. He had only contacted the third defendant to carry out the transfer
because, according to him, his bank EFG was unable to carry out this
transaction. No reason was given as to why not. The third defendant then told
the first defendant to split the money, and deposit it into two accounts belonging
to the second defendant and one account belonging to the third defendant. The
exchange rate quoted by the third defendant to first defendant was US$1 to
6.99 RMB. That was 0.02 RMB more than what “Allan” quoted the second and
third defendants. The first defendant told the plaintiff that the rate was US$1 to
7.025 RMB, effectively making a profit of approximately US$100,000 for
himself, which the plaintiff deposited into the bank account of Kang.
8 None of the defendants seem to know “Allan” very well. Most of the
direct messages between the second or third defendants and “Allan” had been
deleted by the two defendants. They were only able to show the plaintiff
remittance slips amounting to a total of US$1.98m transferred from the second
and third defendants to “Allan”.
9 Although the second and third defendants are partners and have been
doing business in China, they have provided scant information about “Allan”.
The business they do includes helping foreigners find their way to do businesses
in China, such as helping them incorporate companies and presumably helping
them remit money in and out of China. They do not seem like people who have
no idea how money is remitted, and I find it astonishing that for a significant
remittance sum of US$3m, the only detail the second and third defendants had
on “Allan” is his “WeChat” number.
10 All three defendants submitted that the court should not assist the
plaintiff’s application for injunction, as her transmission of US$3m out of China
was illegal according to China laws, and hence against the public policy of
Lyu Yan v Lim Tien Chiang [2019] SGHC 10
4
Singapore. As it stands, there is no sufficient evidence to show any illegality,
and that, in the circumstances of this case, should be heard as part of the defence
at trial. The defendants have not been fully candid and it is not fair to have the
defendants litigate this case in piecemeal fashion. Any inquiry into whether the
plaintiff had acted illegally and if so, whether that affects the plaintiff’s claim is
hereby directed to be heard at trial.
11 Although the bulk of the plaintiff’s money is gone, a sum of US$1.02m
which is unaccounted for may still be here. However, given the time from
21 November 2018 when this summons was filed until now, even that might
have disappeared.
12 The original US$3m were deposited into accounts of the defendants. The
fourth account in the name of Kang seems to be under the control of the first
defendant, although the first defendant denies it. It is incontrovertible that
“Allan” had taken most, if not all, the US$3m, and the explanations given by
the defendants were inadequate and unconvincing. The entire sum of US$3m
seems to have been dissipated through or to the three defendants and “Allan”.
Not a cent has been recovered or accounted for. I am therefore of the view that
there is a real risk of dissipation of assets, and hence sufficient reason to enjoin
the assets of the defendants and to have the defendants disclose their financial
transactions concerning the deposits.
13 At the end of the hearing before me on 16 January 2019 I granted an
interim injunction against the three defendants until 22 January 2019 or further
order.
14 For the reasons above, I would grant an order in terms of the summons
that:
Lyu Yan v Lim Tien Chiang [2019] SGHC 10
5
(a) The plaintiff be granted an order in terms of the draft order
entitled “Injunction Prohibiting Disposal of Assets Worldwide” marked
as “Annex A” to the plaintiff’s summons for injunction dated
21 November 2018;
(b) The defendants inform the plaintiff in writing at once of all their
assets whether in or outside Singapore, whether in their own name or
not, whether solely or jointly owned, and whether the defendants are
interested in them legally, beneficially or otherwise, giving the value,
location and details of all such assets;
(c) The defendants state in the affidavit and provide documents to
evidence full details of:
(i) What has happened to the RMB 13,975,000 transferred
by the plaintiff to the second defendant’s two bank
accounts;
(ii) What has happened to the RMB 7,000,000 transferred by
the plaintiff to the third defendant’s bank account; and
(iii) What has happened to the RMB 100,000 transferred by
the plaintiff to Kang’s bank account.
(d) Personal service of the Mareva Injunction on the defendants be
dispensed with under O 45 r 7(6) and/or O 45 r 7(7) of the Rules of
Court;
(e) Service of the Mareva Injunction be validly effected on the first
defendant by way of service of the same on his solicitors on record,
Abbots Chambers LLC;
Lyu Yan v Lim Tien Chiang [2019] SGHC 10
6
(f) Service of the Mareva Injunction be validly effected on the
second and third defendants by way of service of the same on their
solicitors on record, Eugene Thuraisingam LLP; and
(g) The costs of this application be costs in the cause.

  • Sgd –
    Choo Han Teck
    Judge
    Ng Lip Chee and Jennifer Sia (NLC Law Asia LLC) for plaintiff
    Gino Hardial Singh and Debbie Ooi Yu Ting (Abbots
    Chambers LLC) for first defendant
    Chooi Jing Yen and Hamza Malik (Eugene Thuraisingam LLP) for
    second and third defendants.

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