Accountant in dock over pocketing of more than $40m; faces 693 charges

SINGAPORE - An accountant pocketed more than $40 million from various firms and used most of it to gamble and pay his creditors, a court heard on Wednesday.

Ewe Pang Kooi, 61, had been tasked to liquidate 21 companies and manage the finances of one other. He allegedly misappropriated $40,622,169.79 and US$147,000 (S$196,300) in all.

On Wednesday, Ewe - a licensed liquidator and managing partner of certified public accounting firm Ewe, Loke & Partners - was slapped with 693 charges.

The offences allegedly took place between February 2002 and July 2012, and include multiple counts of criminal breach of trust, forgery and cheating.

Ewe also allegedly made false declarations to a commissioner of oaths in 236 instances, to conceal his acts of misappropriation.

He is said to have transferred away the benefits of his criminal conduct on 178 occasions, and cashed in at least $1,114,195 of it for gambling chips at the two casinos here.

The case came to light when Ewe stalled for time and declined to convene final meetings for various Hewlett Packard (HP) subsidiaries he was liquidating, so that dividends could be paid out. Three firms - HP, a partner of Ewe's firm, and one other company - made police reports against him.

Ewe has been remanded in Changi Prison as he is unable to raise the $4 million bail amount on offer. A bail review hearing will take place on Thursday.

His case will next be heard in the State Courts on Feb 5. Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said that in the meantime, he would be writing to the High Court to have the matter transferred there, in light of the amount involved in the charges.

Ewe is represented by Mr Peter Doraisamy, who later told reporters he would study the charges closely to decide on the next course of action.

Ewe could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust as an agent, if convicted. For each count of using the benefits of this criminal conduct, he could face a maximum penalty of seven years' jail and a $500,000 fine.

pohian@sph.com.sg