Singapore—Lawyer Jeffrey Ong, was first featured in the news in May, due to the S$33 million that had gone missing from his law firm, JLC Advisors. Around this time, Mr Ong went missing as well but was later caught.
As of Monday, October 14, he is now facing four additional charges, one of which is a count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) as an attorney.
Mr Ong appeared in court via video link and faced three other charges of forgery for the purpose of cheating, which he was said to have committed on August 7, 2018.
The particular CBT charge stemmed from October 23, 2017, when he worked at JLC and reportedly misappropriated around S$6.65 million (over US$4.85 million).
The lawyer is said to have forged bank statements from April through June of 2018 in order to deceive another lawyer, Chan Yi Zhang. Mr Ong wanted Mr Chan, who is from a different firm, to believe that the funds related to the charge of CBT had been unused and were still present.
The money was part of a settlement between two companies, Airtrust Singapore and Wrangwell. At that point, JLC Advisors was holding the funds in escrow.
The total number of charges that Mr Ong is facing is now 26 in all, although according to Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo, there may be more charges that the lawyer will be faced with later.
Mr Ong’s legal troubles became public information in May when Allied Technologies (AT) said over S$33 million was missing. The precision-engineering firm had formerly had this amount held in an escrow account managed by law firm JLC Advisors. On May 23, AT filed a statement with the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) to report that they had received a letter purportedly from JLC Advisors (JLC) stating that S$33.4 million from the account had been paid out.
According to this letter, the money is believed to have been paid out upon instructions from the law firm’s managing partner Mr Ong, but Mr Ong’s instructions “might have been unauthorised”.
Adding to AT’s anxiety over its missing millions, this explanatory letter opened up further concerns of accountability and accuracy because, as reported by The Business Times, it did not bear a reference number or signatory name.
Mr Ong, unfortunately, became incommunicado one day before the deadline of AT’s letter of demand for JLC to return the missing funds.
When he could not produce AT’s missing funds, Ong escaped to Malaysia, where he was apprehended by Royal Malaysia Police in Kuala Lumpur on May 29 and then returned to Singapore the following day.
The lawyer apparently left the country via Tuas Checkpoint on May 13, after being questioned by AT, carrying a stolen Malaysian passport.
The passport belonged to another person close in age to the 41-year-old lawyer, said DPP Khoo.
The court heard how Ong started to make arrangements with friends to leave for Malaysia after JLC Advisors demanded an accounting of clients’ funds withdrawn without proper authority.
The only person he told about his intent to go to Malaysia was his wife, and he did not use the family car while he stayed in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur where the Malaysian police arrested him./ TISG