Ng Yu Zhi back in court, faces 18 new charges over billion-dollar nickel trading scheme that involved high-profile investors

If convicted, Ng Yu Zhi could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Businessman Ng Yu Zhi, who is embroiled in one of Singapore's biggest investment fraud schemes, was slapped with 18 more charges in the State Courts over his role in a nickel trading scheme that allegedly cheated investors of at least $1.2 billion.

Clad in a black jacket, white shirt and khaki trousers, the bespectacled Singaporean sat alone in the courtroom as fresh charges were read to him prior to the start of the hearing on Monday (Oct 25) afternoon.

Ng, 34, now faces a total of 69 charges, including those for forgery and criminal breach of trust. In August, 20 counts of cheating involving more than $16 million and US$200,000 (S$269,000) were filed against him.

On Monday, he was hit with more counts of cheating involving $11.4 million and US$5.9 million. Ng, whose bail of $4 million was extended on Monday, is expected to be back in court on Dec 20.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Yong asked the court for further mentions to be adjourned for eight more weeks in order to complete investigations.

"We are not asking for an increase in bail now but we are reserving the rights to ask for this for the current set of (18) charges or any further charges that may be tendered," he said.

Lawyer Rajvinder Singh Chahal, who is representing Ng, said he has no objection to the prosecution's application but asked "how long more investigations will continue, and whether this adjournment is likely to be the last one".

DPP Yong said he "cannot confirm if this is the last adjournment for further investigations".

Ng is a director of Envy Asset Management (EAM) and Envy Global Trading (EGT), which allegedly raised billions of dollars from investors for fake deals related to nickel trading. He was arrested in February this year and first charged with cheating and fraudulent trading in March.

Monday's charges alleged that Ng duped investors between last July and February this year into buying some receivables from EGT's purported sale of nickel to BNP Paribas and a firm named Raffemet, when no such transactions were made.

Investors were allegedly promised varying returns, depending on the nickel trading schemes they joined.

Alleged victims in past charges include Temasek Holdings general counsel Pek Siok Lan, Vickers Venture Partners founder Finian Tan and former Law Society president Thio Shen Yi.

On Monday, Ng was charged with forging false electronic records on various occasions between June 27, 2016 and Aug 12, 2020 for the purpose of cheating.

According to charge sheets, he made false electronic records, between June 2016 and October 2019, of distribution agreements purportedly entered between EAM and Poseidon Nickel for the sale of nickel to EAM. This was allegedly done to dupe investors into believing that EAM had bought nickel from Poseidon.

Ng was also charged with making false electronic records, on various occasions between December 2019 and August 2020, of forward contracts purportedly entered between BNP Paribas Commodity Futures and EAM and EGT for the sale of nickel. This was allegedly done to dupe investors into believing EAM and EGT had entered into forward contracts with BNP.

Ng was also charged with abetting to instigate a Ju Xiao to lodge a false document with the Registrar of Companies claiming that the amount of paid-up share capital for EGT had been raised from $1,000 to $100 million, when there was allegedly no such increase.

If convicted, Ng could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating.

For each count of fraudulent trading, he could be jailed for up to seven years, fined up to $15,000, or both. For each count of forgery, he could be jailed for up to four years and fined.

For each count of lodging false or misleading documents to the Registrar of Companies, he could be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $50,000, or both.

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