Missing $33m and uncontactable lawyer

Allied Tech recuses three directors

Mr Jeffrey Ong Su Aun had allegedly made unauthorised payouts totalling $33,153,416 from law firm JLC Advisors' escrow account.
Mr Jeffrey Ong Su Aun had allegedly made unauthorised payouts totalling $33,153,416 from law firm JLC Advisors' escrow account.PHOTO: JCLADVISORS

Company cites conflict of interest, with one director being partner at law firm under probe

Allied Technologies has recused three directors from all decisions and recommendations by its board because of conflict of interest in relation to the missing $33 million held in escrow by law firm JLC Advisors.

One of the trio is independent director Karen Pok Mee Yau, who is a partner at the law firm.

Allied Tech's board, which filed the announcement with the Singapore Exchange yesterday, has also lodged a police report requesting an investigation into JLC Advisors and its managing partner Jeffrey Ong Su Aun for potential offences committed.

Mr Ong, 42, had allegedly made unauthorised payouts totalling $33,153,416 from the escrow account. The lawyer has been uncontactable for several days.

In its announcement, Allied Tech said it was acting on the recommendation of its nominating committee in recusing Ms Pok, Mr Kenneth Low Si Ren and Mr Lim Jin Wei.

Mr Low, who is the executive director, is involved in transactions relating to Platform Capital Asia (Singapore) and Asia Box Office (ABO). ABO is an e-commerce ticketing platform that Allied Tech invested in last year. Mr Lim, an independent director, has been a signatory to the escrow account with JLC since its establishment.

The board said in the statement that the three directors shall not act as signatory to the accounts of the company and its subsidiaries.

"The recused directors will continue to cooperate and assist in investigations," it added.

 
 
 

The company also said it had on May 23 - through its lawyers from Rajah & Tann - asked JLC to provide a statement of accounts of the escrow funds, confirmation as to when it discovered that the monies had been paid out and to whom, as well as an update on the whereabouts of Mr Ong.

"The company has not received any reply from JLC to its letter," Allied Tech said.

The announcement of a police probe came after the news last Friday of two investigations by the Law Society and the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo).

The Law Society has taken control of all client monies held by JLC Advisors and is carrying out an investigative audit of the clients' accounts at JLC. It will inquire into all facts and circumstances surrounding the operation of the accounts and the role played by Mr Ong.

At the same time, SGX RegCo has directed Catalist-listed Allied Tech to expand the scope of its upcoming special audit of the company to include developments surrounding the missing funds and the progress of its attempts to recover the money.

SGX RegCo's new directive ensures that Allied Tech's special auditor will consider the latest developments in its investigations.

The alleged missing $33 million from the law firm's client account exceeds some $22.6 million in total that went missing in cases involving six lawyers who have absconded from 1997 to 2007.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 26, 2019, with the headline 'Allied Tech recuses three directors'. Print Edition | Subscribe