Bail denied for Jeffrey Ong, who left Singapore after $33m went missing from law firm

Jeffrey Ong Su Aun has been in remand since June 2019 after he was arrested in a Kuala Lumpur hotel. PHOTO: JCL ADVISORS

SINGAPORE - The district court has denied another bid for bail by the lawyer who left Singapore after more than $33 million parked in his firm went missing.

District Judge Terence Tay on Monday (April 12) rejected Jeffrey Ong Su Aun's application, with the 43-year-old appearing before the court via video link.

In total, Ong faces 31 criminal breach of trust charges and 45 charges for offences such as forgery and cheating.

They allegedly involve $69.2 million and US$4.85 million (S$6.5 million), which the prosecution earlier called the "largest amount of money ever misappropriated by a lawyer in Singapore".

Ong, the former managing partner of law firm JLC Advisors, has been in remand since June 2019 after he was arrested in a Kuala Lumpur hotel.

The judge agreed with Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo who noted that most of Ong's charges were for non-bailable offences, which meant the accused must prove why bail should be offered to him.

Ong's lawyer, Mr Tan Hee Joek, had earlier argued that his client had to travel to Kuala Lumpur on business, but Judge Tay said: "There was nothing to support what was submitted by the defence that the accused had to travel there."

The monies that went missing were held in escrow for a client, Allied Technologies.

Escrow is an essential service in capital markets that supports transactions such as mergers and acquisitions. Ong is no longer with the law firm.

After the monies went missing from the law firm, Ong left Singapore for Malaysia in a private-hire car on May 13, 2019.

He checked into a hotel in Kuala Lumpur and became uncontactable three days later.

However, he was tracked down and officers from the Royal Malaysia Police arrested him that same month.

Ong was found in possession of a stolen Malaysian passport issued to a 43-year-old man whose photograph is said to bear some resemblance to Ong. After his arrest, Ong was brought back to Singapore on May 30, 2019.

Mr Tan argued on Monday that his client was not in Kuala Lumpur as part of a "sinister story that the prosecution had earlier tried to portray". But DPP Khoo reiterated that a reasonable person would not accept a passport that did not belong to him, much less one who is legally trained.

After a review, Judge Tay said: "No bail is to stand."

Ong had made an application for bail in 2019 which was also denied.

If convicted of criminal breach of trust as an attorney, Ong can either be jailed for life or jailed for up to 20 years and fined.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for next month.

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