Singapore Law Soc prompts anti-thief accountancy rules

A string of recent cases involving fraudulent lawyers has prompted the Law Society of Singapore to change rules regarding law firm accounting practices.

In the last three months four lawyers have gone missing after the disappearance of money out of their client accounts, most noticeably Tan Cheng Yew, who fled the country in mid-February, after $5.6m (£3.6m) went missing from a client’s trust fund. He is thought to be hiding out in Australia.

The Law Society and Bar Council are due to meet today [22 April] to discuss the changes. One revision suggests that any drawings of more than $5,000 (£3,200) from a client account must be countersigned (currently only cheques over $100,000 (£63,500) require this). It has also been proposed that accounts must be audited quarterly rather than yearly.

Although most large firms already have their own internal systems, the new regulations may cause some procedural headaches.

“I think bigger firms will be more affected because they’re dealing with amounts over that on a daily basis,” one Law Society source said.

The Law Society press office was unavailable for comment.