SINGAPORE - A lawyer who left Singapore after more than $33 million parked at his firm went missing has been issued with 19 new charges.
Jeffrey Ong Su Aun was charged on Tuesday (Oct 20) with 14 counts of criminal breach of trust as an attorney involving more than $17.4 million, as well as five counts of cheating.
With this latest development, the 43-year-old Singaporean now faces a total of 31 criminal breach of trust charges linked to nearly $70 million.
The Straits Times understands that this is one of the largest amounts to date in relation to such offences.
In comparison, the six City Harvest church leaders were found guilty of misusing $50 million in church funds in 2015.
Ong also faces 45 other charges for offences including forgery and cheating. They involve another $6 million.
He was the managing partner of law firm JLC Advisors when more than $33 million held in escrow in the firm for a client, Allied Technologies, went missing.
Escrow is an essential service in capital markets that supports transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.
His latest charges regarding criminal breach of trust as an attorney involve more than $17.4 million that was held in escrow by JLC Advisors for the firm CW Group Holdings, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
He is accused of misappropriating the monies in 2015 and 2016, and is said to have largely engaged in a conspiracy with one Wong Koon Lup, whose details were not revealed in court documents.
According to the latest charges, Ong and Wong allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to cheat five times between 2016 and 2018.
In a statement on Tuesday, police said: "The five counts of conspiracy to cheat were aimed at concealing the misappropriation of funds from CW Group's board of directors as well as the auditor of CW Group's subsidiaries in Singapore, Ernst and Young Solutions."
Ong, who appeared in court via video-link on Tuesday, was not offered bail. His case has been adjourned to Nov 25.
He first made the headlines last year after the monies went missing and he subsequently disappeared.
It later emerged that Ong had left Singapore for Malaysia in a private-hire car on May 13 last year.
He moved to a hotel in Kuala Lumpur and became uncontactable three days later, after he got rid of his mobile phone.
He was at the hotel when officers from the Royal Malaysia Police arrested him later that month. He was brought back to Singapore on May 30 last year.
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.
For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined.