A former Walkers counsel, Feng Then, who allegedly deceived a businessman and had him transfer a total of $5.7 million to his own company, is currently on trial in Singapore.
Then, who is 40, faces a total of 16 charges, including eight cheating charges involving Andrew Ling, a director of investment management companies, Providence Asset Management, and 5 and 2 Pte Ltd., in Singapore.
Then is also facing forgery charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
He is alleged to have committed the fraud while employed by Walkers.
In May 2015, Walkers launched a Cayman Islands entity called Walkers Professional Services (WPS Global). A month later, Then incorporated a company in the British Virgin Islands under an identical name, Walkers Professional Services (WPS), but without Walkers’ knowledge. Then had full control of WPS’s finances through his wife, Lee Moonyoung, who was listed as the sole director and shareholder of the company, according to the charges.
In 2018, Ling and Then are alleged to have decided to jointly acquire an offshore bank to use its license to set up a cryptocurrency-trading business in Singapore. The charges state that Then subsequently falsely represented to Ling that Walkers would provide escrow services for the transaction, and that monies provided for the acquisition would be held by a Walkers-managed bank account.
Then is alleged to have created at least four official documents related to the deal and affixed the Walkers’ logo to each of them. Ling then transferred $5.57 million and $1.8 million to Then and WPS.
Then later told Ling that $4 million was used to buy a bank in Africa, when the actual purchase price was $137,000. When Ling asked for the remaining money to be refunded, Then confessed that WPS was his own personal company and that he had used the money for his own purposes.
According to Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei at her opening statement, after the money was transferred to WPS’ bank account, various sums were subsequently transferred out for purposes unrelated to the purported acquisition.
In September, International Judge Simon Thorley found that Then was liable for deceit. In November, the Singapore International Commercial Court ordered Then to pay $5.27 million and $1.22 million as damages to Ling’s two companies. Ling was represented by Morgan Lewis Stamford’s head of disputes, Daniel Chia.
If found guilty of forgery for the purpose of cheating, Then can be jailed for up to ten years and fined for each charge. He is subject to the same punishment for each count of cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property.
His charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act mean that he can be jailed for up to ten years, fined up to $72,000, or both, for each charge.
Then was a finance lawyer. He joined Walkers in Singapore as an associate in 2011 after three years at Latham & Watkins. He was promoted to counsel at Walkers in 2017. He also previously practiced at Linklaters for more than three years.
Then is no longer employed at Walkers, though it is unclear when his employment was terminated. It is also unclear if Ling had at any point been a formal client of Walkers. The firm did not respond to a request for comments.