Most Highly Regarded Firms: Singapore 2007 - Business Crime Defence

Business crime defence is an increasingly important area in Singapore, where a number of recent high-profile cases have been dominating the headlines. This chapter identifies a select group of nine lawyers with expertise in the representation of companies, corporate officers and individuals in criminal litigation arising from their business activities.

The focus of our research was on white-collar criminal trial practice, however the majority of lawyers on the following pages will also have experience in dealing with investigations, enforcement proceedings and parallel or related civil litigation, as well as advising clients on best practice and compliance with new regimes. Many of the individuals listed below have government experience, no doubt standing them in good stead in private practice.

Harry Elias Partnership is the only firm in the chapter with multiple nominations. With three featured practitioners it clearly has a firm grip on the practice area in Singapore. Harry Elias SC has been lead counsel in a number of high-profile criminal cases and boasts a reputation as a “consummate professional”, respected by all who have crossed swords with him in the courtroom. Philip Fong served as assistant director (investigations) in the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department for eight years prior to joining the firm. Alongside his impressive criminal defence practice Fong also acts as prosecuting counsel for professional associations or bodies. Shashi Nathan heads the criminal practice group at the firm and is a founding member of the association of criminal lawyers in Singapore (ACLS). His white-collar practice has seen him working on the defence or investigating cases involving the whole spectrum of business crime offences. Nathan is currently doing a great deal of work regarding the Securities and Futures Act.

Sant Singh SC from Sant Singh Partnership was appointed senior counsel in February 2007 and is extremely well known for his work regarding corporate corruption.

Michael Hwang SC is a sole practitioner with an “outstanding international reputation” and was recommended to researchers on numerous occasions. Hwang is chairman of the ethics committee of the Law Society of Singapore.

One high-profile source told us Hamidul Haq from Rajah & Tann possesses a “sharp mind and steady hand”. He was deputy senior state counsel and deputy public prosecutor of the criminal justice division at the attorney-general’s chambers prior to joining the firm and remains extremely active in criminal law. Haq has represented the employees of a large US company with a subsidiary in Singapore in relation to the prosecution of one of its group accountants by the Commercial Affairs Department for embezzling over US$10m.

Davinder Singh SC from Drew & Napier LLC is known as “one of the doyens of the Singapore bar”. Singh is a “litigator of incredible skill” and has been involved in some of the highest profile white-collar cases in recent years. Examples include the defence of a managing director of a Singapore-listed company against alleged offences under the Securities Industry Act (the Securities and Futures Act). He has also conducted appeals against the conviction and sentence of two company directors (of a Singapore-based marine fuel oil suppliers), who were convicted under section 6 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Foo Cheow Ming spent six years as a deputy public prosecutor and state counsel of the attorney-general’s chambers. Foo is also a member of the criminal practice committee of the Law Society of Singapore and he brings all of his experience to bear on the practice at KhattarWong. Tan Kok Quan SC is the principle-founding partner of Tan Kok Quan Partnership and is known for the diversity of his practice. He has represented private and government clients in a variety of matters and is extremely comfortable acting in both domestic and international settings.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK