Metro founder's grandson acquitted of conspiring to traffic cannabis

Ong Jenn pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of attempting to be in possession of cannabis.
Ong Jenn pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of attempting to be in possession of cannabis.

Metro scion Ong Jenn was acquitted in court yesterday of two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with a convicted drug offender to traffic cannabis.

After a three-day trial, District Judge Jasvender Kaur found Ong, 41, not guilty of committing the offences with Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid, 45.

Instead, she reduced the charges to two counts of attempting to be in possession of the drug - 385.1g of a cannabis mixture and 92.68g of cannabis - between Oct 30 and 31, 2014. Ong pleaded guilty to these two amended charges yesterday.

Ong, who is the grandson of the founder of property and retail giant Metro Holdings Ong Tjoe Kim and the son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong, also faces six other drug-related charges.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ong Luan Tze told Judge Kaur that if he intends to plead guilty to the six other charges, the prosecution will proceed on two of them - consuming cannabis on Oct 31, 2014, and trafficking the drug, by possessing a 284.7g block of a cannabis mixture at his Bishopsgate home near Grange Road that day.

DPP Ong said the four remaining charges will then be taken into consideration.

Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership, told the court that he needed more time to discuss the matter with his client. The case has been adjourned to June 22.

During the trial in February, the court heard that Ong had admitted he smoked cannabis every day and did so before going to sleep the night before his arrest. He told the arresting officer, Station Inspector Jeffrey Lim of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), of his drug habit in a statement after his arrest.

CNB officers had arrested Ong on Oct 31, 2014 at a taxi stand at Ngee Ann City Tower A. He had $2,000 on him to pay a man known as "Mike" for two blocks of "weed", or cannabis.

"Mike" turned out to be Mohamad Ismail, whom the CNB had picked up the day before. Officers had found in his possession a block of 92.68g of cannabis and another block containing 385.1g of a can- nabis mixture. He was sentenced to 22 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane on Sept 16, 2015, after pleading guilty to three of the seven drug-related charges against him.

Ong told Station Inspector Lim, who took the stand on Feb 3 this year, that he had bought cannabis from "Mike" more than 15 times. He claimed the drug was for his personal consumption. His lawyer had also stressed that he did not obtain the drug for trafficking.

But on Feb 21, the court heard that before his arrest, Ong had agreed to sell 100g of cannabis to a woman known as Gwen Toh. Ong confirmed this, but said the transaction did not occur.

For engaging in a conspiracy to traffic cannabis, offenders can be jailed for between five and 20 years, and ordered to receive between five and 15 strokes of the cane for each charge. For attempting to be in possession of the drug, for each charge, Ong can be jailed up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2017, with the headline 'Metro founder's grandson acquitted of conspiring to traffic cannabis'. Subscribe