Wern-Jhien is a Partner in the Firm's Commercial Litigation Practice Group (Fraud, Asset Recovery and Investigations).
Wern-Jhien is regularly engaged in complex commercial litigation and arbitration. He has been described by clients as “Proactive, engaged, interested in solving the problem and putting forward thoughtful and strategic suggestions for resolution.” (IFLR1000). His practice focuses on banking and financial services disputes, contract disputes, commercial torts and fraud related disputes. He has represented clients in a variety of industries, including finance, construction, pharmaceutical, oil & gas, electronics, office supplies and hospitality. He has appeared at all levels of the Supreme Court of Singapore, including the Singapore International Commercial Court, and is active in international arbitration.
Wern-Jhien has been particularly active on the technology front, having acted in cross-border fraud and commercial tort claims involving semiconductors, smart chips, call routing services, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, online merchant platforms, payment processing services, and algorithmic trading.
More recently, Wern-Jhien has successfully argued a number of applications for freezing injunction and pre-action disclosure orders in aid of recovery actions against cryptocurrency service providers in Singapore and in foreign jurisdictions. He is also involved in several high-value cross border insolvencies involving cryptocurrency service providers, including acting as counsel for the liquidators of the now insolvent Cryptopia Limited and Torque Group.
Wern-Jhien attended the Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur, spent a year in McGill University law faculty, before graduating from the National University of Singapore in 2008. He is also an avid musician, and has experience in advising on and negotiating music recording, publishing, and artiste management contracts, outside his disputes practice.
Cryptocurrency and Digital Technology
- Successfully represented a blockchain and cryptocurrency advisory company in a dispute relating to the design and development of a blockchain- based marketplace for non-fungible-tokens (NFTs) and digital collectibles. This is the first successful application for a proprietary injunction in relation to cryptocurrency assets in the Singapore High Court.
- Acted for the liquidators of Torque Group, a major cryptocurrency investment e-platform, which collapsed upon misappropriation of cryptocurrencies valued at over US$300 million.
- Successfully secured worldwide freezing orders against cryptocurrency assets of Torque Group’s Chief Technology Officer, and acting for the liquidators of Torque Group, a cryptocurrency investment platform which was put into liquidation in March 2021 following the loss and misappropriation of over US$300 million in cryptocurrency assets. Successfully secured orders recognizing main BVI liquidation proceedings in Singapore and disclosure orders against former company officers and cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance, to aid on-going investigations and claims.
- Acting for a prominent e-commerce merchant in a series of asset recovery actions arising from sophisticated digital payment processing fraud, in coordination with internal counsel from multiple jurisdictions. Successfully argued and secured a number of applications for freezing injunctions and disclosure orders in aid of investigation and recovery efforts.
- Acted for a prominent cryptocurrency investor in a dispute arising from the acquisition of a cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea.
- Representing a token ecosystem designer/consultant in a claim against a start-up cryptocurrency trading and brokerage platform in a dispute relating to advisor token and fee payments.
- Successfully acting for Nokia in a dispute relating to call-routing and contact center services.
Liquidation and Cross-Border Asset Recovery
- Advising the liquidators of Phoenix Pte Ltd in relation to the collapse of the Phoenix Commodities group, after amassing more than US$400m in losses, including recovery actions in multiple jurisdictions in Africa and South Asia.
- Acting for the liquidators of Torque Group, a major cryptocurrency investment e-platform, in investigations and claims relating to the misappropriation of cryptocurrencies valued at over US$300 million.
- Acted in a $200 million claim for a Russian bank in relation to a fraud and asset recovery claim, involving proceedings in Singapore, Cyprus, Belize, Russia, and BVI.
- Acting in the enforcement of a substantial ICSID award obtained by leading European glass manufacturer against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
- Acting for the trustee-in-bankruptcy of the estate of Richard Pelletier in a multi-jurisdictional and multi-million dollar asset recovery action, successfully upholding a freezing injunction against assets located in Singapore, and which spawned a landmark judgment addressing novel issues of conflicts of law and jurisdiction.
- Representing a Chinese buyer in an international arbitration arising from a contract for the sale and supply of biodiesel fuel blend, valued at about S$15 million.
- Representing a Singapore company in defending a S$270 million claim by a BVI company in relation to alleged financing provided for acquisition of assets in the solar industry across multiple jurisdictions. The dispute involved issues of PRC laws, and has spawned parallel proceedings in the BVI and the PRC.
- Acted for Bank JTrust (formerly Bank Century Indonesia) and JTrust Co Ltd in defending claims before the Singapore Court arising from English-law governed bonds, involving parallel proceedings in New York, Mauritius, and Japan.
- Acted for ST Microelectronics Asia, one of the largest global semi-conductor manufacturers, in a dispute relating to the supply of chips for a $600 million national identity card project in South-East Asia, involving parallel proceedings in Singapore and Indonesia.
- Acting for MAN Diesel Group, the world market leader for large diesel engines for use in ships and power stations, in defending an action before the Singapore Courts brought by Skaugen Group, a marine transportation services provider headquartered in Norway, for the recovery of damages for alleged fraudulent misrepresentation and manipulation on the part of MAN Diesel in relation to fuel consumption values of certain diesel engines manufactured and delivered by MAN Diesel in the early 2000s.
- Representing a major European office-supplies distributor against its Chinese supplier in a SIAC arbitration.
Construction & Property Development
- Representing an established Singapore property developer in a dispute over the beneficial ownership of parcels of land that were conveyed prior to the introduction of the land titles registration system.
- Representing an established Singapore custom-built crane manufacturer in an arbitration arising from the construction of a multi-million state-of-the-art logistics facility in Singapore.
- Representing an established Singapore tile-supplier in a dispute arising from the construction of a high-end residential development in Shenton way.
- Acting for an employer on various claims arising from an EPC contract for the construction of an oil tank farm, valued at S$280 million.
- Advising an employer on issues arising from the receivership of its main contractor under a construction contract valued at S$219 million.
Memberships / Directorships
- Member, Singapore Academy of Law
- Member, Law Society of Singapore
- Contributor, International Fraud & Asset Tracing 2021 Guide, Singapore Chapter, Chambers and Partners (2021)
- Singapore Ramps Up Combat against Trade Financing Fraud (Rajah & Tann Legal Updates May 2021; Lexology)
- Freezing Injunction in Aid of Foreign Court Proceedings: How does Singapore’s Approach Fare? (Rajah & Tann Legal Updates Jan 2021; Lexology)