SINGAPORE - A man, whose kidnapping in Thailand made headlines in January, has appeared in a district court over charges in a case where he allegedly misappropriated more than $320,000 in 2014. He was offered bail of $80,000 on Monday (Feb 3).
Court documents did not state if the misappropriation case was linked to his alleged kidnapping.
Mark Cheng Jin Quan, 32, told District Judge Christopher Goh on Monday that he will be applying for a private lawyer to represent him after the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme rejected his earlier application.
Cheng, who is a former blockchain adviser with Singapore fintech company X Infinity, is accused of three counts of criminal breach of trust.
In May and June 2014, he was allegedly engaged in a conspiracy with a man identified as Loh Zhi Xiang, 31, to misappropriate cash totalling more than $320,000 belonging to an organisation known as Zabel Global Investments.
Loh's case is still pending.
Cheng's court case has been adjourned to March 2. If convicted of criminal breach of trust, he can be jailed for up to seven years and fined for each charge.
He is also accused of conducting regulated fund management activities without a capital markets services licence, which is an offence under the Securities and Futures Act. This was during the period of April to June 2014, when he allegedly acted as a manager for Zabel Global Investments.
The Straits Times had previously reported that he was out on bail last month and was supposed to be on a one-day trip to Thailand on Jan 9 when he was kidnapped there.
It was allegedly masterminded by his travelling companion, Singaporean Kim Lee Yao Wei, 31.
Cheng claimed that his kidnappers beat and electrocuted him with wires while demanding he pay his own ransom of US$500,000 (S$684,000) in bitcoin.
"I told my captor I didn't have that much. I'm not wealthy," said Cheng, who transferred 5.9 bitcoins that he and his friends owned, worth 1.4 million baht (S$62,000).
According to Cheng, he managed to flee his captors and was picked up by a man on a motorcycle, who dropped him off at Ongkarak police station in Nakhon Nayok province, about an hour-and-a-half's drive from Bangkok.
Lee was later arrested at a Bangkok hotel and charged with offences including robbery and assault. Thai police told ST that the charges could amount to a life sentence.