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Glenn Knight

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Glenn Jeyasingam Knight
Born 1945
Alma mater National University of Singapore
Occupation Former lawyer
Spouse(s) Pathmavali Rengayah

Glenn Jeyasingam Knight (born in 1945) is a Singaporean lawyer. He was the first Director of the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD)[1] when it was founded in 1984.[2] He lost his post in 1991 after being convicted of corruption in a much-publicised trial.[3] In 1998, he was again tried and convicted for misappropriating money while in office.[4]


Knight was a student of Anglo-Chinese School. In the 1990s, he was the vice-chairman of its Old Boys' Association[5] and a member of its board of governors.[6] He obtained his bachelor of laws degree from the National University of Singapore in the 1960s, and played the guitar in a jazz band to raise money for his tuition fees.[3][7]

He joined the Singapore Legal Service in 1970 and rose through the ranks "with the speed and power of an Exocet missile," as Queen's Counsel Roy Allaway later described it. Soon he acquired a reputation for being a law enforcer who prosecuted criminals without fear or favour. News of his ability and integrity impressed the late David Marshall, so much that when he retired he offered to give Knight a full partnership in his law firm; however, Knight was content to remain in the Legal Service and declined the offer.[8]

Knight is married to Pathmavali Rengayah. The couple have no children.[3]

Notable cases[edit]

In 1978, Knight was the deputy public prosecutor in the trial of former magistrate Khoo Hin Hiong. In 1983, he acted for the Prosecution again in the trial of Adrian Lim, who had murdered two children.[8] In 1985, he was the senior state counsel and deputy public prosecutor who filed an affidavit on behalf of the Attorney-General requesting that the High Court cite five defendants for contempt of court over an editorial published in the Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) on 17 October 1985. Titled "Jeyaretnam's Challenge", the editorial had questioned the "integrity and impartiality" of Singapore's judicial system. The affidavit led to an apology from the editor of the AWSJ.[9] In 1986, he was the public prosecutor for the Commercial Affairs Investigation Department[10] who filed charges against key people in Pan Electric Industries ("Pan-El"), such as Tan Kok Liang,[10][11] Tan Koon Swan,[12] and Peter Tham,[13] in the aftermath of the company's collapse. For his role in the Pan-El investigations, Knight was commended by then-Finance Minister Richard Hu in 1989.[14] Knight also led the prosecution team in Singapore's first case of insider trading, that of former United Overseas Bank banker Allan Ng.[15][16] On National Day 1990 (9 August 1990), he was awarded the Public Administration Medal, Gold, for his work as Director of the Commercial Affairs Department.[17]

First investigation and trial[edit]

On 23 March 1991, Knight was suddenly replaced as CAD director by Senior State Counsel Lawrence Ang in a decision that shocked the local legal community.[2] It turned out that Knight was under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).[18][19] After an investigation lasting more than two months—one of the longest probes into the conduct of a public servant in Singapore—Knight was arrested on 27 May 1991[20][21] and charged with corruption the next day. He was the first Singapore legal officer to face such charges.[22] Specifically, he was accused of cheating three businessmen into investing S$3,000,000 each into the former Batam Island Country Club on the Indonesian island of Batam, as well as giving false information to the CPIB regarding vehicle purchases, an application for a car loan, and his corporate investments.[23][24][25] The judge originally set Knight's trial to commence in October 1992, but changed his mind and brought it forward to September 1991 after the prosecution complained that its witnesses had been subject to intimidation, and investigating officers had received mysterious phone calls warning them to "watch out".[26][27] In July that year, his wife and two others were also arrested and charged over the Batam resort investments.[28][29][30]

In a district court on 29 September 1991, Knight pleaded guilty to cheating then managing director of Trans-Island Bus Services Ng Ser Miang to try to make him invest in the Batam resort project, which had been planned by Knight and his wife.[31] In October, he was sentenced to three months in prison.[32][33][34][35]

Knight appealed against the sentence, and in March 1992 he managed to get his sentence reduced to a $17,000 fine and a day in prison.[36] He served the jail sentence and paid the fine on the day it was announced.[37] In deciding to reduce the sentence, High Court Judge L.P. Thean said that a "nominal custodial sentence" was sufficient given the mitigating circumstances in Knight's case.[38] In April, all charges against his wife in relation to his case were also dropped.[39]

Aftermath of first conviction[edit]

Although the sentence meted to him was eventually reduced, the corruption case had left permanent damage on Knight's career as a civil servant. After investigations on him began in March 1991, he faced disciplinary hearings and his services were terminated on 26 March 1992.[40] The President also revoked the prestigious Public Administration Medal, Gold, that had been awarded to Knight.[41] In August 1994, the High Court struck Knight off the roll of advocates and solicitors, meaning that he could no longer practise law.[42] After being disbarred, Knight worked as a consultant in a public-listed company.[43]

Second investigation and trial[edit]

In 1998, Knight was again charged in court—this time with criminal breach of trust by misappropriating money totalling $4,200 when still the CAD's Director on two occasions, in 1989 and 1990.[44][45] This second charge caused Knight to resign from his job.[43]

During the trial, the defence argued that the proceedings were invalid as Knight had been granted immunity by the Attorney-General's Chambers in 1991 from further charges arising from his corruption investigations, in exchange for him to plead guilty in the earlier trial. They argued that the latest set of charges stemmed from that investigation and thus were subject to the immunity clause.[46][47] The CPIB revealed that it had been tipped off about the misappropriation of money only in 1997 by an unnamed informant.[48] The court ruled that the proceedings could continue because the 1991 probe into Knight's dealings did not investigate his misappropriation of money.[49] Eventually the court found him guilty of two charges of misappropriation and sentenced him to a $10,000 fine and another day in jail.[4]

Aftermath of second conviction[edit]

The second conviction left Knight even worse off than before. The company he was working for before his second trial refused to re-employ him. Jobless, he engaged himself in community work in his church, Covenant Community Methodist Church, and often visited a pub in Boat Quay of which his wife was a partner.[3] He faded quietly from public life.[50]

On 25 April 2007, he re-appeared in the news when he filed an application seeking court approval to be reinstated as a lawyer. His application was granted on 22 May 2007, making him only the sixth lawyer to be reinstated in the Law Society of Singapore's 35-year history.[51][52] He will be joining the law firm Bernard & Rada Law Corporation.[53]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "CAD 'Doing Well in Dealing with White Collar Crime'". The Straits Times. 22 September 1990. 
  2. ^ a b Raj, Conrad (23 March 1991). "Lawrence Ang is Now Acting Head of CAD". Business Times Singapore. 
  3. ^ a b c d Tan, Ooi Boon; Lim Seng Jin (20 September 1998). "Fall of a Crime Buster – From Bungalow to Three-Room Flat". The Straits Times. 
  4. ^ a b Lim Seng Jin (3 September 1998). "Knight jailed for a day". The Straits Times. 
  5. ^ "ACS' New Home Geared for 1990s". The Straits Times. 4 November 1989. 
  6. ^ "Prominent Old Boys to Head ACS Board". The Straits Times. 8 November 1989. 
  7. ^ "The Rise and Fall of the Two Ks". The Straits Times. 30 December 1991. 
  8. ^ a b "Law Enforcer Got a Taste of Own Medicine". The Straits Times. 20 September 1998. 
  9. ^ "Asian Journal Editor Delivers Apology to Singapore Court". The Wall Street Journal. 19 November 1985. 
  10. ^ a b "A Judge in Singapore has Committed Mr Tan Koon Swan for Trial in the High Court on a Single Charge of Abetting in the Commission of a Criminal Breach of Trust". Lloyd's List International. 15 August 1986. p. 10. 
  11. ^ "In Singapore, Mr Tan Kok Liang, Finance Director of Pan Electric Industries, Yesterday Pleaded Guilty to Two Charges of Committing Breach of Trust, in which Mr Tan Koon Swan was Alleged to have Abetted Him". Textline Multiple Source Collection (1980–1994). 5 February 1986. 
  12. ^ "International Corporate Report: Businessman Pleads Guilty in Failure of Pan-Electric". The Wall Street Journal. 26 August 1986. 
  13. ^ "Mr Peter Tham Wing Fai, a Former Director of Pan Electric Industries, has been Arrested in Singapore and Charged with Two Counts of Criminal Breach of Trust and Three Counts of Forgery". Textline Multiple Source Collection (1980–1994). 16 April 1986. 
  14. ^ "Glenn Knight and Team Commended for Pan-El Prosecutions". Business Times Singapore. 10 June 1989. p. 7. 
  15. ^ Davidson, Ben (12 September 1989). "Allan Ng Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading". The Straits Times. 
  16. ^ Davidson, Ben (17 September 1989). "Allan Ng Gets a Year's Jail". The Straits Times. 
  17. ^ "Swimmer David's 'Biggest Prize'". The Straits Times. 9 August 1990. 
  19. ^ Gerry de Silva (24 March 1991). "Glenn Knight questioned by CPIB". The Straits Times. 
  20. ^ Conrad Raj. (28 May 1991). "Glenn Knight arrested". Business Times Singapore. 
  21. ^ David Miller (28 May 1991). "Glenn Knight arrested by CPIB". The Straits Times. 
  24. ^ "The charges in detail AGAINST GLENN KNIGHT". Business Times Singapore. 30 May 1991. 
  25. ^ "What the eight charges are". The Straits Times. 30 May 1991. 
  26. ^ "Glenn Knight's trial brought forward to September this year". Business Times Singapore. 2 July 1991. 
  27. ^ Elena Chong (2 July 1991). "Knight's trial brought forward to this year". The Straits Times. 
  28. ^ Conrad Raj (9 July 1991). "Mrs Knight and three others arrested on fraud charges". Business Times Singapore. 
  29. ^ "SINGAPORE CHARGES FOUR IN GLENN KNIGHT CASE". Reuters News. 9 July 1991. 
  30. ^ Gerry de Silva (10 July 1991). "Glenn Knight's wife charged with fraud and corruption". The Straits Times. 
  32. ^ "Former top crimebuster gets three months prison term". Agence France-Presse. 3 October 1991. 
  33. ^ IAN STEWART (4 October 1991). "Jail for former crime buster". South China Morning Post. p. 13. 
  34. ^ Selva Kumar (4 October 1991). "Knight gets three months' jail term". Business Times Singapore. 
  35. ^ Gerry de Silva (4 October 1991). "Glenn Knight sentenced to three months' jail". The Straits Times. 
  36. ^ Knight v. Public Prosecutor [1992] 1 SLR 720. See also "Singapore Court Frees Ex-Crime Buster". Reuters. 6 March 1992.  Ian Stewart (7 March 1992). "Glenn Knight Wins Reduced Jail Term". South China Morning Post.  "Glenn Knight's 3-Month Jail Term Changed to Fine, One Day's Jail". Business Times, Singapore. 7 March 1992. 
  37. ^ "Thank God, he says as he hugs the Bible after hearing". The Straits Times. 7 March 1992. 
  38. ^ In his judgment, Thean J. said, "I consider that the imposition of the nominal custodial sentence is appropriate in this case; I do not consider it at all a farce. It signifies that in the court's view, the appellant must suffer a custodial sentence, albeit a nominal one, and also that, but for the very strong mitigating and other circumstances in his favour, a substantive term of imprisonment would have been meted out to the appellant": see Knight v. Public Prosecutor, op. cit. at para. 28. See also Charmaine Chan (7 March 1992). "Trial judge 'Erred in Grouping all Commercial Crimes in One Category'". The Straits Times. 
  39. ^ "Glenn Knight Case – Attorney General Drops Charges Against 3". Business Times, Singapore. 11 April 1992.  "Rest of Charges Against Three Dropped". The Straits Times. 11 April 1992. 
  40. ^ Gerry De Silva (7 May 1992). "Glenn Knight no longer in civil service". The Straits Times. 
  41. ^ "Glenn Knight's N-Day Gold award revoked". The Straits Times. 7 June 1992. 
  42. ^ Re Knight Glenn Jeyasingam [1994] 3 SLR 531. See also "Former Government Prosecutor Disbarred". Agence France-Presse. 31 August 1994.  "Glenn Knight, Two Others Lose Lawyer Status because of Criminal Convictions". Business Times, Singapore. 1 September 1994.  Elena Chong (1 September 1994). "Glenn Knight Struck Off the Rolls". The Straits Times. 
  43. ^ a b "Ex-DPP – A Noted Crime-Buster". The Straits Times. 16 June 1998. 
  44. ^ "Former Singapore crime buster charged in court". Reuters News. 2 April 1998. 
  45. ^ Conrad Raj (3 April 1998). "Glenn Knight charged with CBT". Business Times Singapore. 
  46. ^ Lim Seng Jin (16 June 1998). "Glenn Knight case an "abuse of legal process'". The Straits Times. 
  47. ^ Tan Ooi Boon (17 June 1998). "Probe was "upsetting', says Knight – No missing funds or dishonesty, says Knight". The Straits Times. 
  48. ^ Tan Ooi Boon (18 June 1998). "Probe on Knight based on "tip-off'". The Straits Times. 
  49. ^ Tan Ooi Boon (23 June 1998). "Judge gives go-ahead for Knight's trial". The Straits Times. 
  50. ^ HELEN CHIA (20 June 1999). "How far will society go to forgive those who fail?". The Straits Times. 
  51. ^ K.C. Vijayan (25 April 2007). "Ex-CAD chief Glenn Knight seeks return to practising law". The Straits Times. 
  52. ^ Satish Cheney and Cheryl Fox (22 May 2007). "Ex-lawyer Glenn Knight can practise again". Channel NewsAsia. 
  53. ^ K.C. Vijayan (22 June 2007). "Ex-CAD Chief to Join Law Firm". The Straits Times. 

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