Kiwi exec caught in Singapore drug bust

By David Eames

A man who ran New Zealand-based manufacturing giant Fisher & Paykel Appliances' business in Singapore faces up to 10 years in a Singaporean jail and $20,000 in fines after being found in possession of methamphetamine and ketamine.

Graham Ball, 45, could also have been facing 10 strokes of the cane had it not been for a plea bargain arrangement between defence and prosecutors.

His arrest comes at an embarrassing time for both countries. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, arrives in New Zealand today for an official five-day visit, including a trip to the All Blacks v Ireland test with Prime Minister Helen Clark .

Ball was Fisher & Paykel's general manager of Singapore sales until his arrest.

Singapore police spokeswoman Dawn Sim told the Weekend Herald that he was arrested after a police raid on his home on March 31.

The raid was a targeted operation, stemming from information supplied to police.

Ball was allegedly found in possession of 2.25g of methamphetamine and 1.19g of ketamine.

Ketamine is both a human and veterinary anaesthetic, popular with drug users for its hallucinatory effects.

The quantities were not large enough to attract Singapore's mandatory death penalty, but enough to put Ball at risk of a 10-year jail term, a S$20,000 ($20,170) fine or both, Mrs Sim said.

However, Ball's Singapore defence lawyer, Harbajan Singh, told the Weekend Herald his client's penalty could have been much worse.

Mr Singh said Ball was originally charged with trafficking the drugs, and faced a minimum five years in jail and five strokes of the cane on each charge.

He also faced charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, consumption of drugs and allowing his apartment to be used for illegal activity.

Mr Singh said Ball was "definitely not in a strong position" after a urine sample returned a positive drug reading.

But a "helpful" prosecution team had agreed to reduce the charges to possession, which would spare Ball a beating.

"I think we have got somewhere and hopefully we can get some more mileage."

Mr Singh said Ball could receive as little as nine months in prison, of which he would serve two-thirds.

His client was on bail, staying in a "very, very pleasant condominium", Mr Singh said. He believed Fisher & Paykel owned the condominium.

"They have terminated his employment, but have not asked him to leave the apartment."

Ball told the Weekend Herald he had been in Singapore for "a couple of years", having moved there to work for Fisher & Paykel.

He said he was no longer employed by the company, but directed further inquiries to Mr Singh.

Fisher & Paykel spokesman Paul Brockett confirmed Ball was still there, but only until the lease expired, in about 10 days.

He said Ball had been in charge of "warehousing, distribution and sales" in Singapore, controlling about 10 staff.

He had left the company of his own volition soon after his arrest.

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