Man jailed for submitting fabricated US divorce documents to S’pore courts after being served writ of divorce
SINGAPORE — In a bid to protect his assets during a divorce proceeding initiated by his then-wife, a man fabricated documents that purportedly came from a court in the United States.
- Mak Wai Kong was served a writ of divorce after his wife initiated divorce proceedings in Singapore
- To protect his assets from being divided, he submitted fabricated documents
- The fake documents stated that the marriage had already been dissolved in the US and there would be no division of assets
- Mak said that he submitted the fake documents as he had doubts the writ was real
SINGAPORE — In a bid to protect his assets during a divorce proceeding initiated by his wife, a man fabricated documents that purportedly came from a court in the United States.
The fake documents stated that the marriage had already been dissolved and that there would be no division of assets between the two parties.
He then submitted the documents to Singapore’s Family Justice Courts under his wife’s name, Ms Qin Huifang.
On Friday (Dec 3), a district court here sentenced Mak Wai Kong to 11 months’ jail after the 45-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of providing false evidence with the fabricated documents, and a separate charge for committing mischief by damaging a surveillance camera used by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to detect high-rise littering.
The property executive was also ordered to pay compensation of S$1,097 for damaging the surveillance camera.
FABRICATING DIVORCE DOCUMENTS
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Huo Jiongrui said that Ms Qin initiated the divorce proceedings in Singapore on Jan 11 in 2018.
On July 1 that year, the Family Justice Courts received an email purportedly from Ms Qin, which stated that the couple had completed their divorce proceedings in the United States and that the Singapore courts may use the documents “to close this case from your end with effect from today”.
The documents consisted of a cover letter signed by one “William R King” from the Law Office of William S Orth, PA, and a copy of a decree of divorce from the Multnomah County Courthouse in Oregon.
The “decree of divorce” stated that the marriage between the couple had been terminated and dissolved by the Oregon Judicial Department since June 18 that year, and that Mak’s place of residence in Singapore and Qin’s real estate assets in China and the US were not to be divided.
Soon after receiving the documents, District Judge Michelle Elias alerted the legal registry at the Family Justice Courts that the documents were possibly fraudulent.
Ms Qin’s counsel was shown the documents and confirmed that apart from divorce proceedings initiated in Singapore, there had been no other proceedings filed by Qin in the US or elsewhere.
The owner of the law firm in the US also confirmed that there was no one by the name of “William R King” in the company nor was there any other lawyer from the firm representing Ms Qin.
DPP Huo said that the divorce proceedings were officially concluded on Sept 10 and during this time, Mak had not shown up for any of the court hearings.
Investigations later found that Mak had fabricated the documents using samples of divorce court documents he found online.
He also admitted that he did so to prevent the Family Justice Courts from continuing with the divorce proceedings so that his assets would be protected from division.
DAMAGING SURVEILLANCE CAMERA
Turning to Mak’s second offence, DPP Huo said that this took place on Feb 29 last year at the foot of the public housing estate where he lived in Canberra near Sembawang.
With his face covered with a black cloth, Mak struck several times with a hammer the NEA camera that was pointed at his flat and two others below him.
DPP Huo said that the camera had been placed there because NEA had received complaints from residents about high-rise littering, which were suspected to have come from the three units.
Mak was caught in the act by his neighbours.
‘CONFUSED STATE OF MIND’
When asked by Senior District Judge Bala Reddy if he had anything to say in mitigation, Mak said that he doubted the authenticity of the writ when he first received it and chose to fabricate the documents to “test if (the writ of divorce) was the real thing”.
When District Judge Reddy asked if it occurred to Mak to seek clarification from the Family Justice Courts instead, Mak said that he did and found out that his mother was involved.
The judge asked: “Your mother engaged a lawyer for your ex-wife to file for divorce?” Mak replied “yes”.
Even so, District Judge Reddy said that it was a serious matter to fabricate official documents from another country and questioned why he did it.
“Because (I) don’t want to divorce my wife at (that) moment of time. When I received the writ of divorce, I had great confusion on this issue. (In my) confused state of mind, I came up with the document.”
When asked by District Judge Reddy about his other charge of damaging the surveillance camera, Mak claimed that he did not know he was the one who had committed the offence until he saw a photograph that caught him doing so.
Mak said: “During that timeframe was towards the lockdown period (for Covid-19). I was very stressed. I was half awake and half asleep…I did it because I have sleeping violence.”
Mak explained that he was “half sleeping, half walking” and thought that he was at work installing a wall plug as it is “very common” for him to be using tools during the day.
He later clarified that he was not qualifying his plea and that he admitted to the offence.
For fabricating false evidence to be used in a judicial proceeding, Mak could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.
For mischief causing disruption to a key service, he could have been jailed up to 10 years or fined, or both.