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Friday, June 21, 2024
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FORMER LAWYER CONVICTED AND JAILED FOR AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL BREACH OF TRUST

On 22 April 2024, 58-year-old Soraya Hafsa Binte Ibrahim (“Soraya”) was convicted for dishonestly misappropriating monies entrusted to her in her capacity as an attorney. She was also convicted for preparing papers for a grant of letters of administration after she was struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court. 

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Soraya pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal breach of trust under Section 409 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) read with Section 124(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 (“CPC”) and punishable under Section 124(8)(a)(i) of the CPC, and one count of preparing papers while being an unauthorised person under Section 33(2)(b) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161, 2009 Rev Ed) (“LPA”) punishable under Section 33(5) of the LPA. One other charge of aggravated criminal breach of trust was taken into consideration during sentencing. She was sentenced to 52 months’ imprisonment with effect from 18 June 2024 and a fine of $5,000, in default 10 days’ imprisonment.

Soraya was practising as a lawyer in her sole proprietorship, Soraya H. Ibrahim & Co. Sometime in 2019, her client appointed her to assist with legal matters pertaining to the administration of his late mother’s estate. Soraya arranged for the opening of an estate bank account, to be operated by the client as the sole signatory. Between 10 May 2019 and 31 May 2019, Soraya prepared and asked her client to sign cash cheques issued from this bank account. The client, believing that the signing of such cheques was for the proper administration of the estate, signed all these cheques and handed them to Soraya, entrusting her, as his attorney, with a total sum of $527,002.32. However, Soraya dishonestly misappropriated the funds by using the money to pay for her personal expenses, including credit card payments, and debt repayments to banks, friends, and relatives. Soraya eventually made full restitution to the client, most of which was paid pursuant to a court order obtained by the client in a civil suit.

On 20 January 2020, Soraya was struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court. Despite this, between 2 October 2021 and 3 November 2021, Soraya prepared papers for the purpose of an application for the grant of letters of administration for another client. She was paid fees of $10,000 for this matter. She returned the fees of $10,000 to the client after the police investigation into this matter commenced.

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