Composite image of Lee Suet Fern (left) and the Attorney-General's Chambers. (Photos: Morgan Lewis, Attorney-General's Chambers)
SINGAPORE: A case of “possible professional misconduct” by lawyer Lee Suet Fern – wife of Mr Lee Hsien Yang – in the preparation of his father and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's final will has been referred to the Law Society by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
“In this case, AGC became aware of a possible case of professional misconduct by Ms Lee. Ms Lee appears to have prepared the Last Will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and arranged for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to execute it, despite the fact that her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, is one of the beneficiaries under the Last Will," AGC said in a statement on Monday (Jan 7).
"Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased under the Last Will. AGC also noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said publicly that the Last Will was drafted by Ms Kwa Kim Lee of M/s Lee & Lee. However Ms Kwa Kim Lee has denied that she drafted it,” it added.
The statement said that the case “does not relate to the validity of the Last Will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Ms Lee, formerly a managing partner with law firm Morgan Lewis Stamford, has been at the centre of a dispute between the late Mr Lee’s children – her husband, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – over the preparation of their father's final will.
Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang
Under the legal profession's rules of conduct, lawyers are not allowed to place themselves in a position of conflict, AGC said.
“Where a person intends to make a significant gift by will to any member of the lawyer’s family, the lawyer must not act for the person and must advise him to obtain independent advice in respect of the gift. This rule applies even if the lawyer is related to the person making the gift,” it said.
According to AGC, Attorney-General Lucien Wong has recused himself from the case and Deputy Attorney-General Lionel Yee is overseeing it. Mr Wong used to be PM Lee's personal lawyer.
Mr Yee had written to Ms Lee “several times” since October 2018, “asking her to explain her position, and her role (if any) in the preparation of the Last Will", AGC said.
“However, despite asking for extensions of time to respond, Ms Lee did not answer the questions that AGC had asked,” it said, adding that the matter was then referred to the Law Society.
“The Deputy Attorney-General has also further requested that the matter be referred to a Disciplinary Tribunal," the statement added.
AGC said it has a "statutory duty to deal with misconduct by lawyers" and that when it becomes aware of the possibility of misconduct, it is required to consider if the matter should be referred to the Law Society.