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Busy fighting for high profile clients, will Murali have time for Bukit Batok?




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By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond

Yesterday (8 May), the newly elected MP Murali for Bt Batok went around the constituency on a “thank you parade” to thank the residents.
Speaking to the media, he said his immediate priority would be to reflect on what can be done better for the residents, following his election. “We can always do better,” he said. “So that must be essential after any election.”
He added that he has a “full schedule”, and will take “quick steps” to get as many partners for the plans he has outlined for residents. “We’ve outlined the Neighbourhoods Renewal Programme, and we seek feedback from our residents,” he said. “So I’m hitting the ground running.”
Mr Murali may seem to be “fighting hard” for his Bt Batok residents presently but in the meantime, he is also busy fighting for his clients in courts.
Murali acts for Arab Banking Corporation
Murali, a lawyer and partner of Rajah & Tann law firm, acted for Arab Banking Corporation in a recent case.
The case was as follows (http://www.boustead.sg/News%20Coverage/2015/2015-03-12%20Boustead%20wins%20suit%20over%20Libya%20contract%20-%20The%20Business%20Times.pdf):
Boustead Singapore won a S$300 million contract to build a township housing in Libya in 2007. As in any construction projects, performance bonds and guarantees will have to be furnished by the contractor to the developer, in case of project non-delivery.
Libya’s Bank of Commerce and Development provided the guarantees amounted to some US$19 million to the Libyan government. In turn, Boustead’s bank, Arab Banking, provided the counter-guarantees to the Libyan bank.
When civil war broke out in Libya in 2011, following the Arab Spring, the project was halted. The housing project site was looted and pillaged and Boustead’s plant and equipment were destroyed. As a result, Boustead evacuated its staff and abandoned the construction project. Subsequently, Boustead invoked a “force majeure” clause on its contract with the Libyan government to terminate the contract. It was also able to obtain a temporary injunction from the Singapore court to stop Arab Banking from carrying out any guarantee payments.
However, the Libyan bank repeatedly requested Arab Banking to payout the guarantee payments. So, in Sep 2012, Arab Banking demanded payments from Boustead and sued the company.
In March last year, Singapore High Court decided that Arab Banking was not to receive payment from Boustead, and ordered it not to make payment to the Libyan bank also.
“The circumstances are such that it would be unconscionable for Arab Banking Corporation to receive payment of monies from Boustead, which will eventually be paid to ODAC (the Libyan Govt entity),” said Justice Woo, the High Court judge.
The Webster dictionary defines the word “unconscionable” as “not guided or controlled by conscience: unscrupulous” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unconscionable).
He also added that the Libyan bank had made these payment demands “fraudulently in the reckless sense”, and that Arab Banking had knowledge of this fraud.
“In the light of these findings, it is my view that when Arab Banking Corporation made the FA Demand on 3 September 2012, Arab Banking Corporation was acting fraudulently in the reckless sense,” Justice Woo concluded (http://www.singaporelaw.sg/sglaw/laws-of-singapore/case-law/free-law/high-court-judgments/15934-boustead-singapore-ltd-v-arab-banking-corp-b-s-c-2015-sghc-63).
“Even if Arab Banking Corporation only acquired knowledge of the invalidity of the Counter-Guarantee Demands as a consequence of BCD’s (Libyan Bank) fraud after 3 September 2012, it is fraudulent (in the reckless sense) for Arab Banking Corporation to continue maintaining its claim against Boustead in these circumstances when it has not paid BCD before acquiring such knowledge,” he added.
Court of Appeal also found bank acted fraudulently
Unhappy with the High Court’s decision, Arab Banking appealed and Murali continued to act for the bank.
But last month, the Court of Appeal, the highest court in Singapore, threw out the bank’s appeal. In the Court of Appeal, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Justice Andrew Phang and Justice Quentin Loh heard the case.
In its decision, the Court of Appeal found that Arab Banking has indeed, “acted fraudulently, in the reckless sense, in making the demand” for Boustead to pay for the guarantee payments (http://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/slw/attachments/80905/[2016]%20SGCA%2026.pdf).
The justices wrote in its judgement, “In gist, we consider that Arab Bank acted fraudulently, in the reckless sense, in making the FA Demand.”
“We agree with the Judge (Woo) that a permanent injunction is warranted in this case,” they added. In other words, Arab Banking cannot make anymore guarantee payment claims against Boustead for the abandoned Libyan township project.
It’s not known why Murali acted for the bank a second time in the appeal when the bank was found fraudulent by the High Court earlier.
But lawyer Alfred Dodwell, who acted for Amos Yee for free last year, has this to say, “We believe that everyone including the most heinous of criminal should be given legal representation.”
“I acted for Amos and we do not have to believe in what our clients did to act for them,” he added.
Murali is not a senior counsel but a partner of a law firm.
According to Alfred, a senior counsel makes about $1,200-$2,000 an hour, representing a client. When asked how much Murali would make, he reckoned that senior counsels would make more than Murali.
“He would probably be at $800 per hour. But being in a big firm like Rajah & Tann, he could be making a lot of monies as the firm might have a lot of good clientele,” Alfred suggested.

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