SINGAPORE - A lawyer who vanished after more than $33 million parked at his firm went missing was slapped with four new charges on Monday (Oct 14), including one count of criminal breach of trust (CBT) as an attorney.
The CBT charge refers to Jeffrey Ong Su Aun's time at law firm JLC Advisors where the 42-year-old allegedly misappropriated more than US$4.85 million (about $6.65 million) on Oct 23, 2017.
The three other new charges are for forgery for the purpose of cheating, which Ong allegedly committed on Aug 7 last year. Ong, who is now in remand, appeared in court via video link.
The court heard that he had allegedly forged bank statements for the months of April to June last year to dupe a lawyer from another firm, Mr Chan Yi Zhang, into believing that monies linked to the CBT charge were still present and unused.
The cash was linked to a settlement between two firms - trading company Airtrust Singapore and Wrangwell. It was then held by JLC Advisors in escrow, which is an essential service in capital markets that support transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.
Ong now faces 26 charges in all, including cheating, but Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo told the court that he may face more charges later. Ong first made the headlines earlier this year after more than $33 million that was held in escrow by JLC Advisors for client Allied Technologies went missing. He disappeared soon after.
Court documents do not state if the cases involving precision-engineering firm Allied Technologies are related to the matters involving Airtrust Singapore and Wrangwell.
It emerged in court earlier that Ong had left Singapore for Malaysia in a private-hire car on May 13 after making arrangements with a friend known only as Nicholas. In Malaysia, he met with one Dennis, a friend of Nicholas. Dennis initially took Ong to his office where the lawyer stayed for two or three days, Singapore police investigations revealed.
Ong then moved to a hotel in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, and became uncontactable on May 16 after he got rid of his mobile phone.
He stayed at the hotel until officers from the Royal Malaysia Police arrested him on May 29. Ong was found to be in possession of a stolen Malaysian passport which he had obtained from another friend known only as Calvin.
The passport had been issued to a 43-year-old man whose photograph bore some resemblance to Ong.
Police believed Ong had the knowledge and means to abscond.
Ong was brought back to Singapore on May 30 and charged with one count of cheating two days later. He faced more charges in court in the following months. Ong’s case has been adjourned to Nov 25.
If convicted of criminal breach of trust as an attorney, he can either be jailed for life or jailed for up to 20 years and fined.