A top Singapore businessman’s son was charged Thursday with giving false evidence against an Indonesian maid who was cleared of stealing from their family, in a case that sparked widespread anger.

The controversy raised questions about how the justice system treated one of the city state’s best-known businessmen Liew Mun Leong and his family, compared with a low-paid domestic helper, Parti Liyani.

The affluent financial hub is home to about 260,000 domestic helpers, who mostly come from poorer Asian countries and earn salaries far below the average Singaporean’s.

The family of Liew, chairman of Singapore’s airport operator until he quit in September, fired Liyani in 2016 and she was charged with stealing items from them including watches, clothes, and a DVD player.

She was initially found guilty and sentenced to more than two years in jail but was acquitted on appeal, with a judge raising concerns about how the case had been conducted.

The judge said there was reason to believe the family’s filing of theft charges was aimed at preventing her from lodging a complaint against them with authorities.

Liyani had been sent to clean the home and office of the businessman’s son, Karl, which is illegal. The judge also cast doubt on the younger Liew’s credibility as a witness.

Authorities launched a probe into the handling of the case and on Thursday, Karl Liew was charged in court with “furnishing false information” to police.

The charge related to the 43-year-old’s statement he had found 119 pieces of clothing belonging to him inside a box packed by the Indonesian maid.

He was also charged with lying under oath in court when he said that a T-shirt and a red blouse allegedly stolen by the maid belonged to him.

He faces up to three years in jail for the first count, and seven for the second.


© Agence France-Presse