Jatinder Singh: Defence request time to explore crypto enthusiast’s ‘cognitive’ functioning

A judge has expressed shock after lawyers acting for a man who stole $6m from a cryptocurrency platform flagged a fresh twist.

Jatinder Singh, 38, was due to face a pre-sentence hearing in the Victorian County Court on Friday for sentencing submissions.

But his barrister Martin Kozlowski instead said the defence would need more time because they wanted to have Singh assessed to see if he met the criteria for an intellectual disability.

“A further assessment, such as that proposed, could make a significant difference in terms of Mr Singh’s understanding and foresight,” he said.

“If there’s an intellectual disability, a psychiatrist or psychologist might take a view as to mental impairment.”

Judge Martine Marich responded with incredulity, saying she was “shocked” it was only being raised now after months of delays to the case.

The court was told Singh was initially scheduled to face trial in August last year but the trial was vacated after issues in the case were resolved.

He pleaded guilty in December to a rolled-up charge of theft — encompassing $6.09m over 160 transactions.

Previously, Judge Marich was told the saga began in May 2021 when Singh used his ex-girlfriend’s, Thevamanogari Manivel, bank account to transfer $100 into a Crypto.com account.

The cryptocurrency declined the deposit after recognising the different names linked to the accounts and emailed Singh to say they would refund the $100.

A staff member accidentally then sent Manivel $10.47m after entering her bank account number as the amount to be returned.

It would be seven months before the error was uncovered in an internal Crypto.com audit and Manivel’s bank began contacting her to return the money.

This was ignored, with the pair instead going on a spending spree buying a home, land and giving one man a $1m gift.

The court was told forensic psychologist Gina Cidoni had assessed Singh has having an IQ of 69 and recently recommended further tests.

“These cognitive challenges likely impaired his judgement and decision making, suggesting his actions might not have been fully intentioned or informed by a clear understanding of the potential legal and moral implications,” she found.

Judge Marich expressed frustration at the “glacial” pace the case was progressing at, but approved the request for further time, saying further information could have a significant impact on his ultimate sentence.

Singh will return to court in September.