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Yearning for Justice and Peace

Deutsche Bank v Chang Tse Wen trial in Singapore

 

“Dr Chang Tse Wen ("Dr. Chang"), was an investor who first met a representative from Deutsche Bank AG ("DB"), in March 2007.”

It brought chills to Dr. Chang, when he read the first sentence of the judgment from the Court of Appeal of Singapore (Appeal Court) quoted above. He feared where the rest of the grounds of decision were heading to and how the Appeal Court judges would selectively use the facts.

Dr. Chang had spent his life as a biomedical scientist and had very little investment experience before he met Mr. Wan Fan Ting Johnny. Dr. Chang had made almost all of his money from his anti-IgE antibody invention. The invention led to the development of Xolair, which had finally been successfully commercialized by two pharmaceutical companies for the treatment of severe asthma while Dr. Chang continued with his biomedical research.

Mr. Wan was not merely a regular representative from DB; he was a “one of a kind” manager from DB’s Private Wealth Management group (DBPWM). Dr. Chang first met Mr. Wan at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong in December 2006, and the High Court of Singapore (High Court) had determined that from then on Mr. Wan had carried out a series of unethical and deceitful acts to target and lure Dr. Chang as a customer of DBPWM.

In the 20-day trial at the High Court held from 26 October till 23 November 2010 and on 15 April 2011, Mr. Wan and Dr. Chang testified and were cross-examined, respectively, by their opponent’s attorneys and Justice Pillai for most of the trial time. The court examined how Dr. Chang engaged in the fervent purchase of bank shares and the financial derivative products on bank shares (Discounted Share Purchase Programs or DSPP) in 2007-8 and how Mr. Wan targeted and lured Dr. Chang to open an account at DB and then sold him DSPP products on bank shares.The High Court outlined Mr.Wan’s misrepresentation of DBPWM’s services, sale to Dr. Chang of risky products intended only for professional investors, fabrication of important internal documents, and other violations of common regulatory codes in Hong Kong and Taiwan. (Mr. Wan is currently under an arrest warrant of a Taiwan court in a criminal lawsuit against him for fraud.) The court also examined DB’s and Mr.Wan’s failure to comply with the obligation of discovery. Full transcripts of the trial were produced. Justice Pillai ruled after the trial in favor of Dr. Chang (High Court's Grounds of Decision delivered on 11 December 2012). The High Court’s judgment called for DB to repay to Dr. Chang all the money he had lost in his DB account, about US$49 million, plus interest and part of his legal fees.

In the hearing before the Appeal Court held on 21 May 2013, Mr. Wan and Dr. Chang were not present. Three Judges of Appeal questioned DB’s and Mr.Wan’s attorneys and Dr. Chang’s attorneys for about four and a half hours. No transcript of the hearing was prepared. The Appeal Court overturned the High Court’s decision (Appeal Court’s Grounds of Decision issued on 19 September 2013). The Appeal Court's judgment calls for Dr. Chang to pay the deficit in his DB account, about US$1.8 million, plus interest and part of the legal fees that DB and Mr. Wan had spent.

Dr. Chang’s quest for justice, fighting against a global banking giant, required a huge amount of money, taking much of what he had left from his financial ruin. The lawsuits involved many thousands of documents, teams of attorneys and consultants for each side, and took almost five years to conclude. His lead attorney regretfully said to him, “Unfortunately, it is the end of the road.” At this point, Dr. Chang feels terribly shaken, very tired, and helpless. He has passed 66 years and is ready to retire. He yearns for justice and hopes that he can live the rest of his life in peace.

Dr. Chang questions the fairness of the Singapore Appeal Court’s judgment, because it refers to solid evidence and facts (which were established at the High Court) superficially and selectively. For example, it mentioned three times that Dr. Chang purchased bank shares and DSPP products in his other accounts (which were examined in depth at the High Court), but it disregarded the facts that Dr. Chang had very little investment experience before meeting Mr. Wan and that Mr. Wan persistently and repeatedly recommended DSPP products and bank shares, including recommending DSPP products in the two face-to-face meetings in Taipei. The judgment does not say a word about DB’s and Mr.Wan’s failure to comply with the legal requirement of discovery. It does not say a word about the fact that Mr. Wan was caught lying many times in the witness stand and was an evasive and unreliable witness. It ignores the fact that DB concealed huge profits behind Dr. Chang’s back by adding hefty surcharges to the DSPP contract unwinding fees. It also does not find fault at all in the many unethical and tricky acts and serious violations of regulatory codes the High Court found that Mr. Wan had committed, including extensive fabrication of important internal bank documents (e.g. “Know Your Client (KYC)" form) pertaining to Dr. Chang’s account. These serious offences were not addressed in the Appeal Court’s judgment. Instead, the Appeal Court has kindly given supportive advice to banks to clean up their acts in the conclusion of the final judgment:

”Cleaning up the paperwork and communicating in clear terms with customers after the initial discussions to identify with precision just what is and is not provided might well be a worthwhile exercise for banks to undertake. This could perhaps have obviated the present litigation.”

While this summary statement indicates that the Appeal Court finds that DB should bear at least part of the responsibility in Dr. Chang’s misfortune, it overturns the High Court’s judgment completely. With the judgment of Singapore's Appeal Court completely disregarding the wrongful actions of DB and its representative, Mr. Wan, Dr. Chang feels victimized by DB for a second time. Dr. Chang achieved success over his life-long scientific career in biomedical research by trusting the people working with him. With this same trusting character nurtured in his research career, he trusted Mr. Wan fully as an advisor and a friend and, as a result, lost almost his entire fortune in one year.

This website has been created to make the trial in the High Court and Appeal Court of Singapore transparent to the international community. Dr. Chang and many people who are concerned with the fairness of the final verdict of this trial believe that openness and transparency, especially regarding those facts established in the High Court, will help safeguard fairness. If a trial is just and fair, the court and the parties on both sides of the trial should have no qualms about full transparency of information pertaining to the trial. In order to start a meaningful international dialogue, the judgments from the two courts, the transcripts of the 20-day trial at the High Court, a few documents that belonged to Dr. Chang, and the closing submissions which Dr. Chang's attorneys prepared on his behalf are provided. Those in the legal profession probably can obtain other documents of the trial directly from the Singapore courts.

Many investors have already expressed concerns that the Appeal Court’s decision will reverse the trend of enhancing investor protection. Dr. Chang has spent much of his life as a teacher and hopes, along with many concerned people who know of this trial, that investors around the world, especially those living in countries where bank regulatory systems have not been well established, can learn from Dr. Chang’s dreadful encounter with DB and painful investment experience with Mr. Wan. This website will provide a forum for interested visitors to this website to express and exchange ideas and discuss how we all together can help to improve the protection of individual investors.

 

 

expandBasic facts of the trial
expandThe parties
expandThe issues in dispute
expandSingapore court system
expandKey dates of the trial
expandThe judges
expandThe lead attorneys
expandThe witnesses
expandDocuments
The judgment (grounds of decision) from the High Court (HCJ)
The judgment (grounds of decision) from the Appeal Court (ACJ)
expandThe trial transcripts of the 20-day trial in the High Court
Affidavit of evidence-in-chief of Dr. Chang, Vol. 1 (AEIC)
Closing submissions of Dr. Chang (CSC)
The DBPWM PowerPoint (ppt) presentation (printed form)
Dr. Chang's English address proof for Standard Chartered Bank
Prof. Lim's handwritten note for Standard Chartered Bank
Client Acceptance and Profile Report (CAPRE) form dated 3 Aug 2007
Margin Trading Checklist (MTC) form dated 19 Nov 2007
Know Your Client (KYC) form dated 3 July 2008
Summary of facbrications of Mr. Wan on three important bank's documents
Arrest warrant against Mr. Wan in a criminal lawsuit for fraud issued by a Taiwan court
High School students' messages after visiting the court
expandThe conclusions of judgments from the High Court and from the Appeal Court
The conclusion of the judgment from the High Court (HCJ p.70)
The conclusion of the judgment from the Appeal Court (ACJ p.46)
expandDr. Chang's background and lack of investment experience
expandLife-long devotion to biomedical research and the development of anti-IgE drug (Xolair) (see AEIC p.1-10)
expandA trusting personality nurtured in life-long work in scientific research (AEIC p.10-12)
expandDr. Chang had very little experience in investment matters (AEIC p.12-24)
expandDB and Mr. Wan did not comply with the legal requirement of discovery
Dr. Chang provided all bank and stock brokerage accounts for the past 5-7 years (from around 2000-2), e-mails, and all relevant materials. (AEIC p.90-92)
For this case, telephone call records are the most crucial evidence for discovery. (CSC p.366-68)
Both Mr. Wan and Dr. Chang testified that they had frequent telephone conversations, including multiple conversations daily in the material period, regarding recommendations, DSPP, PSSP, account management, market movements, margin calls, and various other issues. (TT7 p.96-97; AEIC p.55)
DB and Mr. Wan screened and selected telephone records and only provided records for a small number of the phone conversations for discovery.
In the 7-month period from March 2007 to 18 Nov 2008, the day prior to Dr. Chang's first purchase of DSPP products, only one telephone record (dated 31 July 2007) regarding Dr. Chang's account opening was provided.
In the 3-month period, Aug to Oct 2007, no telephone record was provided.
In the most material 4-month period from 1 Nov 2007 to 26 March 2008, which had largely determined the fate of Dr. Chang's financial assets, only telephone records for the 18 days on which Dr. Chang purchased DSPP products were provided.
Not a single record of phone conversations between Mr Wan and Prof Lim was provided.
In the 5 days when Dr. Chang was in the witness box in court, Mr. Ang (DB and Mr. Wan's chief attorney) used mainly DB and Mr. Wan's selected telephone records for cross-examining Dr. Chang.
Justice Pillai said to Mr. Ang, "I think you should be a bit careful about what you're saying", when Mr. Ang described how DB and Mr. Wan selected telephone records for discovery. (TT7 p.101-103)
After the High Court trial in Oct-Nov 2010, a monetary regulatory agency in another country revealed two telephone records not provided by DB and Mr. Wan.
Mr. Wan provided Prof. Lim's handwritten note after the High Court trial in Oct-Nov 2010.
Meeting notes, e-mails, and other documents between Mr. Wan and his managers and staff members were not provided. (e.g. TT8 p.19-20)
DB redacted (blotted out) huge concealed profits from Dr. Chang's unwinding DSPP contracts. (CSC p.286)
expandMr. Wan's series of unethical, deceitful and illegal acts to target and lure Dr. Chang
Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang met Mr. Wan for the first time on 28-29 Dec 2006 at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong; Prof. Lim had a joint account with her father at SCB. (AEIC p.25-30)
Mr. Wan concealed and misappropriated Dr. Chang's English address proof (the first page of a monthly statement of a Fidelity Investment account) at SCB, as determined by Justice Pillai. (HCJ p.5)
Mr. Wan concealed and misappropriated Prof. Lim's handwritten note meant for SCB's staff, as determined by Justice Pillai. (HCJ p.6)
Mr. Wan contacted Prof. Lim in Feb 2007 after he moved to DB, and again in March 2007 after he did not hear from her, to inform her of his move to DB.
Mr. Wan entered Taiwan to solicit Dr. Chang as a customer without a license.
Mr. Wan made a misleading PowerPoint presentation in the meeting of 15 March 2007 (please see below).
For the 15 March 2007 meeting, Mr. Wan brought a DSPP brochure, an unapproved financial derivative product, to Taiwan and intended to sell DSPP to Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang. (TT12 p.21)
Mr. Wan is currently under an arrest warrant in a criminal lawsuit against him for fraud in Taiwan.
expandThe misleading DBPWM PowerPoint presentation (ppt) used by Mr. Wan in the March 2007 meeting
In his ppt presentation to Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang, Mr. Wan presented selected pages of the printed form on a laptop screen. (AEIC p.30-46)
The emphasis on trust and fiduciary platform; the emphasis on management team (ppt p.12)
Mr. Wan gave Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang a printed copy at the end of the ppt presentation.
At the bottom of each page, there was a footnote in fine print "Please refer to last page for Important Information". (ppt p.13)
expandThe last page with the heading "Important Information" is in fine print; it contains an "exclusion clause". (ppt p.33)
Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang explained their background and the need for an investment advisor to help manage their assets.
Mr. Wan addressed how DBPWM could meet Prof. Lim's and Dr. Chang's needs.
Prof. Lim signed the account opening form at the end of the meeting.
Mr. Wan lied in his AEIC and in Court about asking Dr. Chang and Prof. Lim to read the page with exclusion clause in the 15 March 2007 meeting. (TT12 p.92) 
Mr. Wan also lied about asking Dr. Chang and Prof. Lim to read out all sections in the Standard Service Agreement (11-page long and in small print) and Risk Disclosure Agreement (5-page long and in small print) in the 15 March 2007 meeting. (CSC p.346)
Justice Pillai examined Prof. Lim over Mr. Wan's misleading ppt presentation. (TT3 p.83-85)
Appeal Court's conclusion (in the judgment) on DB's presentation of services. (ACJ p.46)
expandMr. Wan's persistent recommendations on DSPP and bank shares
Mr. Wan brought a DSPP brochure for the 15 March 2007 Meeting. (TT12 p.21)
Mr. Wan recommended DSPP products in the 15 March 2007 Meeting. (AEIC p43-45) .
Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang had never heard of DSPP; Mr. Wan explained DSPP products in writing to them.
Mr. Wan's trip report for the 15 March 2007 Meeting indicated that he was determined to sell DSPP to Prof. Lim.
After returning to Hong Kong, Mr. Wan forwarded to Prof. Lim information on DSPP.
Most of Mr. Wan's follow-up e-mails regarding recommendations to Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang since 15 March 2007 were about DSPP and bank shares. (AEIC 49-54)
In his second meeting with Dr. Chang and Prof. Lim in Taipei on 22 Aug 2007, Mr. Wan recommended DSPP products.
In the period from Sept to Oct 2007, most of Mr. Wan's recommendations through e-mails and phone calls were equities of international banks.
Mr. Wan enthusiastically recommended bank shares and DSPP via phone calls in the beginning of Nov 2007; he also recommended DSPP of currencies.
Throughout all of this period after 15 March 2007, Mr. Wan had never talked about the risks of the DSPP products.
expandDr. Chang was profoundly convinced by Mr. Wan's persuasive advice.
Mr. Wan repeatedly advised Dr. Chang that the subprime problem was only temporary, that it was a rare opportunity to acquire bank shares, and that Citigroup would never go under (AEIC p.54-68).
Mr. Wan said that DSPP contracts were a good way to accumulate blue-chip shares.
In about mid-Nov 2007, a few days before Dr. Chang entered the first DSPP transaction, he started to buy Citigroup shares in his Fidelity Investment account, because of lower commission rates. AEIC p.71-72)
Dr. Chang and Prof. Lim purchased the first DSPP products on 19 Nov 2007.
Mr. Wan continued enthusiastic recommendations of DSPP in the ensuing months.
Dr. Chang also bought similar DSPP contracts in his Citibank/Smith Barney account in a lagged time frame, essentially copying what he did in his DB account. (AEIC p.72-76)
During almost the entire period when Dr. Chang worked with Mr. Wan, he treated him as a team member working for his account; he trusted Mr. Wan fully as an advisor and a friend.
Dr. Chang learned some basic knowledge about DSPP, stocks, and markets while working with Mr. Wan, but his understanding was shallow.
Dr. Chang learned some simple features of DSPP, but did not understand the product's structure and hidden risks.
Dr. Chang was led by Mr. Wan's advice through the entire period of their relationship.
expandExtensive fictitious untruths in important bank forms pertaining to Dr. Chang's account
The Client Acceptance and Profile Report (CAPRE) form dated 3 Aug 2007
The Margin Trading Checklist (MTC) form dated 19 Nov 2007
The Know Your Customer (KYC) form dated 3 July 2008
Justice Pillai stated that the fabrications on the CAPRE form were palpably fictitious. (HCJ p.18)
Summary of the fabrications of Mr. Wan on the three important DB documents
The fabricated forms were all approved by several managers to open an account, sell high-risk products to Dr. Chang, and unilaterally extend unsolicited margin facilities to Dr. Chang. (HCJ p.24)
expandDB concealed huge Profits by adding hefty "surcharges" on DSPP unwinding fees
DB sold DSPP contracts to clients by acquiring such contracts from a third party (another bank) in a back-to-back counterparty transaction, (CSC p.286)
In the transaction papers provided by DB in discovery, the amount of unwinding fees which DB paid to a third party for each contract was redacted (blotted out).
The amounts DB paid to the third party for unwinding two contracts were inadvertently disclosed during discovery. (CSC p.286)
For unwinding one of those two contracts, DB required Dr. Chang to pay US$608,720.14; the unredacted number showed that DB paid the third party US548,720.14, showing that DB pocketed US$60,000. (CSC p.286)
To unwind the other contract, Dr. Chang paid DB US$603,615.93, out of which DB paid the third party US$543,615.93 and hence also pocketed US$60,000. (CSC p.286)
The concealed lump sum "surcharges" were hefty, about 11% of the payment to the third party, based on those two contracts.
The amounts DB paid to the third party for Dr. Chang's unwinding of another 15 contracts were redacted.
It cost Dr. Chang US$13.94 million to unwind all of the 17 DSPP contracts (CSC p.290); if DB added a "surcharge" of about 11% on average for unwinding all other contracts, DB would make a total profit of about US$1.38 million from these "surcharges".
Was the hidden opportunity to also pocket a client's money in the unwinding process one of the incentives for Mr. Wan to sell DSPP products to Dr. Chang so enthusiastically?
When Dr. Chang was enduring the pain of unwinding contracts at a loss to resolve margin calls, DB reaped huge hidden profits out of his account behind his back. (CSC p.287)
expandHow did Dr. Chang's asset in his DB account evaporate and a deficit be created?
DB provided loan facilities, without Dr. Chang's request and knowledge, to expand Dr. Chang's capacity to purchase products (the loan letters were sent by regular post mails). (CSC p.229)
The DB account required cash infusion for meeting margin calls.
As the accumulated shares dropped in price and the unwinding of DSPP contracts burned off money, the account value decreased. (AEIC p.76-82)
A chunk of 799,250 shares of Citigroup in Dr. Chang's account were sold at $3.64/sh by DB, which was below the lowest closing price ($3.77/sh) of 2007-8, on 21 Nov 2008, creating a deficit of about US$1.7 million in the account. (CSC p.305)
Citigroup shares went up 58% ($5.95/sh closing price) on the next business day and up 120% ($8.29/sh closing price) in the next 4 business days.
If the shares were sold on any other day in the remainder of 2008, the account would not have a deficit.
expandJustice Pillai called Mr. Wan an evasive and unreliable witness
Mr.Wan's affidavit of evidence-in-chief had many lies.
Mr. Wan was caught lying on the witness stand many times (CSC p.336)
Mr.Wan's twisting lies were sometimes so hilarious they prompted laughter in the courtroom.
Example: Mr. Wan testified that the address proof was unclear, "Just the name and the address, and the rest are dark, very dark". (TT11 p.74)
Example: Mr. Wan testified in court that he knew that Dr. Chang had an asset of 5 million from "sum total of my impression". (TT11 p.64)
Example: Mr. Wan asked Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang to "read out" all sections of the Standard Service Agreement (11-page long and in small print) and Risk Disclosure Agreement (5-page long and in small print) in the 15 March 2007 Meeting. (CSC p.346)
While on the witness stand under cross-examination by Mr. Pillai (Dr. Chang's chief attorney), Mr. Wan twice showed a "thumb up" sign to Mr.Pillai when he was caught lying, out of Justice Pillai's sight. (TT13 p.1)
A group of high school students, who sat in the court sessions for about a week, left written messages.
Lies about the meeting with Prof. Lim and Dr. Chang at Standard Chartered Bank (CSC p.336)
Lies about their meeting on 15 March 2007 in Taipei (CSC p.346)
Lies about their meeting on on 22 August 2007 in Taipei (CSC p.352)
The Forum for visitors’ discussion (to go to Forum)

 

 

 

Several concerned people have collaborated in constructing this website and raised the following topics for discussion. Visitors to this website are encouraged to raise other pertinent topics.

  1. Does the Appeal Court ignore major facts in overturning the judgment from the High Court? Is it legally or morally acceptable to ignore essentially all major facts established by the High Court? Is the judgment from the Appeal Court fair?

  2. Would transparency of the Appeal Court hearing be a way to safeguard fairness, like the transparency of the trial and the availability of the trial records of the High Court?

  3. The DB's main witness’ complete lack of credibility and his providing multitudes of false testimony are not of a concern in the Appeal Court’s judgment. Is this judgment out of the norm?

  4. Does the rulings by the Singapore courts encourage a trend of relaxation of regulatory supervision on bank operation?

  5. The “know your client (KYC)” requirement is well adopted worldwide in bank managers’ handling clients’ investment needs. For example, the DSPP products cannot be sold to U.S.A. citizens. Are investors better protected from risky financial products in the U.S. and in European countries (like UK and Germany)? Can international banks adopt the same standard in Southeastern Asian countries?

  6. What can financial regulatory agencies in Hong Kong and Singapore do to guard against bank managers from selling risky financial derivative products to naïve investors in their own and in other countries?

  7. What can be done to protect naïve investors from unscrupulous bankers who use all kinds of marketing antics and persuasion (including lies) to sell unsuitable products to their customers?

  8. What other right of recourse do gullible bank customers have against bank managers who have sold them unsuitable, highly risky products? To resort to legal means will require a tremendous amount of financial and other resources, which ordinary people mostly do not possess.
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Articles in popular media
 
1. In Wealth Biweekly, Vol. 438, November 21, 2013 (Taiwan). Author 朱美宙
2. In Money Monthly, January 2014 (Taiwan). Author 許瀞文