Metro founder's grandson admits agreeing to sell woman drugs

Ong and his wife arriving at the State Courts yesterday. Ong took the stand yesterday on the third day of his trial on two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with convicted drug offender Mohamad Ismail to traffic cannabis.
Ong and his wife arriving at the State Courts yesterday. Ong took the stand yesterday on the third day of his trial on two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with convicted drug offender Mohamad Ismail to traffic cannabis.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

But Ong Jenn tells court the transaction did not take place as he was out at a dinner when she contacted him again

Three people sent Ong Jenn, a scion of the family that founded property and retail giant Metro Holdings, Whatsapp messages talking about the need to replenish supply just days before his arrest on drug- related charges on Oct 31, 2014.

The court heard that two of them, known as Tan Pek Leng and Gwen Toh, were specific about the need for drugs during their exchange of messages with Ong Jenn. Ong admitted yesterday he had agreed to sell 100g of cannabis to Ms Toh.

But he denied knowing what another woman, known as Charmaine Harn, meant when she spoke of supply.

The grandson of Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim and son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong is on trial for two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with convicted drug offender Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid, 45, to traffic cannabis.

Six other drug-related charges have been stood down.

Ong's claim has been that the drug he obtained from Mohamad Ismail was for his own personal consumption. He said this in a statement he gave the Central Narcotics Bureau on Oct 31, 2014.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Luan Tze read out the messages obtained from Ong Jenn's mobile phone on the third day of his drug-trafficking trial.

The court heard that intermediary Tan contacted Ong Jenn on Oct 27, 2014, to say Ms Toh wanted to replenish her drug supply as her "guy" was out of town.

The next day, Ms Toh sent a text message to Ong asking for 100g of cannabis in two blocks. She then asked Ong, now 41, how much the drugs cost, and he replied: "$1,100, just come collect and give cash."

Ong, who took the stand yesterday, confirmed he had agreed to sell her cannabis but said the transaction did not occur.

The court heard that Ms Toh contacted him again the next day, but he was not ready to meet her as he was out at a dinner.

They did not communicate with each other about the cannabis after that.

On Oct 30, 2014, he received a message from Ms Harn, who wrote: "My guy is out of town and my supply is exhausted. No point getting a load (because I'm) leaving in a week, wondering if (you) have a $150 I could kop (sic) off you please."

But under cross-examination by DPP Ong, Ong said he did not know what Ms Harn was asking for.

When pressed, he told the court he assumed Ms Harn was asking for money and the "load" in her message was referring to funds.

 
 

He said he did not sell her anything either.

It was not mentioned in court if any action had been taken against Ms Toh and Ms Harn.

Ong's claim has been that the drug he obtained from Mohamad Ismail was for his own personal consumption. He said this in a statement he gave the Central Narcotics Bureau on Oct 31, 2014.

Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng from WongPartnership, also said in an earlier hearing that his client did not obtain the drug for trafficking.

Mohamad Ismail was sentenced to 22 years in jail and given 18 strokes of the cane on Sept 16, 2015, after pleading guilty to three of seven drug-related charges.

Two of his charges were related to Ong's current case.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur will deliver her verdict on May 12.

If convicted of engaging in a conspiracy to traffic cannabis, Ong can be jailed for between five and 20 years, and ordered to receive between five and 15 strokes of the cane for each count.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2017, with the headline 'Metro founder's grandson admits agreeing to sell woman drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe