SINGAPORE: The lawyer who went missing in May, along with more than S$33 million from a client’s escrow account, was charged with three more charges of forgery and one count of criminal breach of trust on Monday (Oct 14).
JLC Advisors managing partner Jeffrey Ong, who turned 42 in August, appeared in court through video-link sporting a shaved head, TODAY reported. He now faces a total of 26 charges – mostly for forgery and cheating – in addition to the new ones.
These charges are not related to the S$33.4 million that may have been paid out under Ong’s instructions from the account of engineering firm Allied Technologies, a client of JLC Advisors.
On Monday, Ong was charged with committing criminal breach of trust as an attorney by pocketing US$4.85 million (S$6.64 million) from the law firm’s Standard Chartered bank account around Oct 23, 2017.
This is the most aggravated form of criminal breach of trust, and is punishable by a life sentence.
Ong is now also accused of making fraudulent statements of accounts for the said bank account from October 2017 to February 2019, TODAY reported.
He is said to have done so in order to cheat one Chan Yi Zhang into believing that the US$4.85 million held by JLC Advisors in escrow was present and unused in the Standard Chartered bank account.
The funds were meant for a settlement involving two firms: Airtrust (Singapore) and Wrangwell.
Court documents did not state who Chan Yi Zhang is.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo told the court on Monday that Ong may face more charges, as the authorities are still completing investigations and taking statements from him, the TODAY report said.
He is due to appear in court again on Nov 25 and remains in remand.
ONG USED STOLEN PASSPORT
When Ong last appeared in court in June, the court heard that he fled Singapore on May 13, 10 days before a May 23 Singapore Exchange filing by Allied Technologies, which first put focus on Ong and JLC Advisors.
Ong was arrested in a Kuala Lumpur hotel with a stolen Malaysian passport about two weeks after absconding. He had also disposed of his mobile phone and got a new one with a Chinese SIM card before he fled.
According to prosecutors, he got a friend to take him to Malaysia and arranged to stay in two locations – a hotel and an office. He did not use credit cards to pay for either place.
According to reporters, Ong told no one of his plans, save for his wife, an officer from the Commercial Affairs Division said in his affidavit.
Following his arrest in Malaysia, Ong appeared in court on Jun 1 and was charged with cheating a company called Suite Development.
He allegedly did so by deceiving another company – CCJ Investments – into believing that Suite Development had entered into a loan agreement with it.
Ong is accused of signing a series of documents, in which he pretended to be one Tan Kwang Yong James, the sole director and shareholder of Suite Development.
He allegedly did this multiple times on Feb 18. The matter is said to have involved a sum of S$16 million and the signing of documents, such as a shareholder’s resolution and a deed of guarantee, between the two companies.
Additionally, Ong is also accused of dishonestly inducing CCJ Investments to disburse a sum of S$6 million.
About S$3.3 million was used to refinance Suite Development’s mortgage loan and about S$2.7 million was deposited into the client account of JLC Advisors, the court heard then.