Metro founder's grandson acquitted of drug trafficking charges, pleads guilty to attempted possession charges

Ong Jenn (right) and his wife arriving at the State Courts on Feb 20, 2017.
Ong Jenn (right) and his wife arriving at the State Courts on Feb 20, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The grandson of the man who founded Metro was acquitted in court on Friday (May 12) of the drug trafficking charges against him.

After a three-day trial, District Judge Jasvender Kaur found Ong Jenn, now 41, not guilty of two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with convicted drug offender Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid, 45, to traffic cannabis on Oct 30, 2014.

But the trafficking charges were amended to two counts of attempting to be in possession of the drug - 385.1g of a cannabis mixture and 92.68g of cannabis - between Oct 30 and Oct 31, 2014.

Ong pleaded guilty on Friday to these two amended charges.

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However, he still has six other drug-related charges against him which have been stood down.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ong Luan Tze told Judge Kaur that if he intends to plead guilty to these charges as well, the prosecution will proceed on two of them.

According to these two charges, Ong allegedly consumed cannabis on Oct 31, 2014. He also allegedly trafficked the drug by having in his possession a 284.7g block of a cannabis mixture at his Bishopsgate home near Grange Road that day.

Should Ong plead guilty to these two other offences, DPP Ong added that the remaining four remaining charges will be taken into consideration.

His lawyer, Senior Counsel (SC) Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership told the court that he needed more time to discuss the matter with his client and the case has been adjourned to June 22.

During the trial which started this February, the court heard that Ong, who is the grandson of the founder of property and retail giant Metro Holdings Ong Tjoe Kim and the son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong, had admitted he smoked cannabis every day and did so before going to sleep the night before his arrest on Oct 31, 2014.

He had told the arresting officer, Station Inspector (SI) Jeffrey Lim of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), of his drug habit in a statement after his arrest.

CNB officers arrested Ong at a taxi stand at Ngee Ann City Tower A.

He had $2,000 on him to pay a man known as "Mike" for two blocks of "weed", or cannabis.

"Mike" turned out to be Mohamad Ismail whom the CNB had picked up the day before Ong's arrest.

The CNB found in Mohamad Ismail's possession a block of 92.68g of cannabis and another block containing 385.1g of a cannabis mixture.

Ong told SI Lim, who took the stand on Feb 3 this year, that he had bought cannabis from Mohamad Ismail more than 15 times.

He claimed the drug was for his personal consumption.

SC Tan had also stressed that Ong did not obtain the drug for trafficking.

But on Feb 21, the court heard that before his arrest, Ong had agreed to sell 100g of cannabis to a woman known as Gwen Toh.

She had sent him a text message asking for 100g of cannabis in two blocks. She then asked him how much the drugs cost, and he replied: "$1,100, just come collect and give cash."

Ong, who had taken the stand, confirmed he had agreed to sell her cannabis but said the transaction did not occur.

Mohamad Ismail was sentenced to 22 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Sept 16, 2015, after pleading guilty to three of the seven drug-related charges against him.

Two of his charges are related to Ong's current ones.

Offenders convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to traffic cannabis can be jailed for between five and 20 years, and ordered to receive between five and 15 strokes of the cane for each charge.

For attempting to be in possession the drug, for each charge, Ong can be jailed up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.