Jeffrey Ong Su Aun, lawyer and managing partner of law firm JLC Advisors who abscond with more S$33 million in funds from a client’s escrow account, was slapped with four more new charges on Monday (14 October).
He is charged with three more counts of forgery for the purpose of cheating and one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT), bringing his total number of charges to 26.
These charges is not part of the S$33.4 million that was allegedly paid out under Ong’s instructions from the account of engineering firm Allied Technologies. The firm was one of JLC Advisors’ clients.
On Monday, Ong, 42, is charged of CBT as an attorney by dishonestly misappropriating US$4.85 million (S$6.64 million) from JLC Advisors’ Standard Chartered bank account on 23 October 2017. This form of aggravated CBT can result to a life sentence, if convicted.
The Singaporean is also now accused of apparently forging statement of accounts for April, May and June 2018, on 7 August 2018 for the law firm’s Standard Chartered USD bank account.
Ong did it in order to cheat a man called Chan Yi Zhang into thinking that the US$4.85 million kept by JLC Advisors in escrow was present and unused the Standard Chartered bank account. The funds were meant for a settlement for two firms, Airtrust (Singapore) and Wrangwell.
Court documents did not reveal who Chan was.
As for the three new forgery charges, they are similar to the 13 forgery counts that Ong was charged on 20 June, and it involves a total sum of nearly US$4.8 million. These alleged offences, which also involved him making false statements of accounts, were done between October 2017 to February 2019.
Ong received the four new charges on Monday through video link, and the prosecution applied for a six-week adjournment in order to finish their investigations. Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo told the court that investigators are still working on taking statements from him and might bring more charges against Ong.
No plea was recorded on Monday, and the case is set for the next hearing on 25 November.
Previous case and arrest in Malaysia
After he appeared in court in June, it is revealed in court that Ong left Singapore on 13 May – 10 days before a 23 May Singapore Exchange filing by Allied Technology. This is the beginning of how the attention was first focused on Ong and JLC Advisors.
Ong was apprehended in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, two weeks after absconding Singapore. It appeared that he used a stolen Malaysian passport, and got rid of his mobile phone and purchased a new phone with a Chinese SIM card before running away from Singapore.
Prosecutors also revealed that he got help from a friend to bring him to Malaysia and made arrangements to stay in an office and a hotel, which he didn’t pay for using credit cards.
He told his plans only to his wife, said an officer from the Commercial Affairs Department in his affidavit.
After he was repatriated and brought to court in Singapore on 1 June, Ong was first charged with cheating a company named Suite Development. He apparently did it by tricking another company (CCJ Investments) into believing that Suite Development had made a loan agreement with it.
Ong is blamed for signing a number of documents posing as the sole director and shareholder of Suite Development. He allegedly did it a few times on 18 February this year, and the amount involved in this deal is S$16 million.
Additionally, Ong is also said to dishonestly use CCJ Investments to disburse S$6 million. Nearly S$3.3 million was used to refinance the mortgage loan of Suite Development and about S$2.7 million was deposited into the client account of JLC Advisors, the court had previous noted.