Lawyer Jeffrey Ong faces eight more forgery charges

Lawyer Jeffrey Ong Su Aun, who was charged on June 1 with one count of cheating a company out of $6 million, faced eight new charges of forgery for the purpose of cheating in the same case yesterday.
Lawyer Jeffrey Ong Su Aun, who was charged on June 1 with one count of cheating a company out of $6 million, faced eight new charges of forgery for the purpose of cheating in the same case yesterday.PHOTO: JLC ADVISORS

Three other clients of law firm have also gone to CAD over $16m in unauthorised transactions

Another three clients of JLC Advisors - the law firm whose managing partner is linked to a missing $33 million case - have come forward to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) regarding unauthorised transactions of monies totalling $16 million that were held by the firm.

This was revealed by the pro-secution yesterday as it slapped Jeffrey Ong Su Aun with further charges and asked the court to extend his remand for the CAD to conduct its investigations.

Ong, who appeared in court yesterday via a video link as he is held on remand, was charged with an additional eight counts of forgery for the purpose of cheating another company, CCJ Investments, into disbursing a sum of $6 million.

This is on top of the one count of cheating that he was charged with on June 1.

In addition, Ong is linked to the case of a missing sum of more than $33 million which was being held in escrow by JLC Advisors for its client Allied Technologies.

Escrow is an essential service in capital markets that supports transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.

Ong later became uncontactable.

 
 
 

On May 30, with the assistance of the Royal Malaysia Police, he was caught in Malaysia and brought back to Singapore.

According to court documents, the current nine charges came about as the lawyer allegedly committed forgery by fraudulently signing documents as James Tan Kwang Yong, the director and sole shareholder of Suite Development, and Joel Tan Guang Qian, the company secretary of Suite Development, on Feb 18 and 19.

In doing so, Ong is said to have dishonestly induced CCJ Investments to disburse a sum of $6 million.

According to court documents, some $3.3 million was then used to refinance Suite Development's mortgage loan and about $2.7 million was deposited into the account of a JLC Advisors client.

According to records on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) website, Suite Development is a real estate developer which was registered on Sept 16, 2010.

There was no information on CCJ Investments on the Acra portal.

Ong will be back in court next Thursday. If convicted of forgery for the purpose of cheating, he could be jailed up to 10 years and fined.

Following the incident, the Law Society has said that it may consider introducing rules and guidelines for operating escrow accounts after it completes its probe into JLC Advisors.


How the scandal unfolded

May 20

Jeffrey Ong Su Aun resigns from his position as acting non-executive chairman and independent director of Annica Holdings, an engineering and oil and gas company, citing "personal reasons".

May 23

Allied Technologies files a statement with the Singapore Exchange saying that about $33 million in an escrow account held by JLC Advisors is believed to have been paid out on the instructions of the law firm's managing partner Ong, who has been uncontactable for days.

Allied Technologies adds that the payout may have been unauthorised, according to a letter it had received from JLC Advisors the day before.

May 24

The Law Society seizes control of all client monies held by JLC Advisors.

It says that it will launch an investigative audit on the law firm's client accounts.

At the same time, Singapore Exchange Regulation, which had ordered Allied Technologies to undergo a special audit into why it had placed its funds with JLC, says the audit will be expanded to include developments surrounding the $33 million and the progress in trying to get the money back.

Meanwhile, Ong's father says the family is shocked to learn about what happened, and he has been unable to reach his son since the previous week.

May 25

Allied Technologies recuses three directors from all decisions and recommendations by its board because of conflict of interest in relation to the missing $33 million. They are independent director Karen Pok Mee Yau, who is a partner at JLC Advisors, executive director Kenneth Low Si Ren and independent director Lim Jin Wei.

May 28

Mr Low's laptop and mobile phone are retained by police. He is also interviewed at the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) office, and later surrenders his passport. CAD also seizes information, records and documents from the premises of Allied Technologies and its subsidiaries.

May 30

Ong is caught in Malaysia and taken back to Singapore.

June 1

Ong is charged with one count of cheating another company, CCJ Investments, out of $6 million on Feb 19.

June 13

Ong faces eight new charges of forgery for the purpose of cheating in the same case. He will be back in court on June 20.

Prosecution says three more clients of JLC Advisors have come forward to CAD regarding missing monies totalling $16 million that were held by the law firm.

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2019, with the headline 'Lawyer Jeffrey Ong faces eight more forgery charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe