Clerks jailed for $11m scam

TWO solicitor's clerks who obtained more than $11 million in a mortgage scam had brought the legal profession into disrepute, a High Court judge, sending the pair to jail, said yesterday.

Mr Justice Patrick Chan said Jack Chan Chi-keung, 31, and Yim Fat-hoi, 42, had taken advantage of the lax control of solicitor Clifford Yeung and the system.

Chan and Yim's actions led to the collapse of the law firm of Clifford Yeung and Co, in whose Mongkok office they worked.

Both had denied submitting forged applications for home loans to banks in July and August of 1990 before absconding to Taiwan, but were convicted yesterday after a five-week trial.

The court heard the solicitor in charge of the Mongkok office was away in July and August and Chan, who had only three years' experience, was left in charge.

Mr Yeung worked mainly from the firm's Central office.

It heard evidence that shortly after genuine loans were granted by banks to clients of Clifford Yeung, Chan submitted loan applications falsely stating he, or Yim, in four cases, and others, were purchasers seeking to borrow on the same property.

The loans were approved, money paid into Clifford Yeung's client account and later withdrawn and put into the defendants' accounts.

Chan, who was said to have gained almost $8 million in the scam, was convicted on 15 counts of obtaining property by deception and one of uttering forged documents and was sentenced to a total of seven years' jail. He was acquitted on one count of uttering forged documents.

The judge found there was no evidence Chan was the instigator but said he played a major role.

Yim was convicted on four counts of obtaining property by deception, totalling $3.4 million, and was sentenced to three years' jail.

In mitigation, Edward Mumford QC, for Chan, argued his client was inexperienced as a solicitor's clerk and there was no evidence he was the instigator.

Barry Sceats, for Yim, asked the judge to deal with him on the basis he had allowed his name to be used in four frauds committed over a short period.