Missing S$33m case: Singapore lawyer Jeffrey Ong faces eight new forgery charges

Lawyer Jeffrey Ong was back in court June 13, 2019. Three more clients from his law firm, JLC Advisors, have reported unauthorised transactions involving money that the firm held for them. — Handout via TODAY
Lawyer Jeffrey Ong was back in court June 13, 2019. Three more clients from his law firm, JLC Advisors, have reported unauthorised transactions involving money that the firm held for them. — Handout via TODAY

SINGAPORE, June 14 — Jeffrey Ong, the lawyer who went missing along with more than S$33 million (RM100.6 million) from a client’s escrow account, has been charged with eight counts of forgery under Section 468 of the Penal Code.

Documents submitted to a hearing at the State Courts yesterday showed that Ong allegedly signed a series of documents pretending to be the sole director and shareholder of one of the companies he is accused of cheating in a separate charge laid on June 1.

It was also heard that three more clients from Ong’s law firm, JLC Advisors, where he is managing partner, have also approached the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to report unauthorised transactions involving funds held for them by the firm.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Khoo told the court that a sum of S$16 million is involved, though the CAD needs more time to conduct fund-tracing to find out which transactions are unauthorised.

Ong was arrested at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia late last month, with the assistance of the Malaysian authorities. On June 1, he was charged in Singapore with one count of cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code.

For this earlier charge, a court document showed that on February 19, Ong allegedly deceived a company called CCJ Investments into believing that another entity called Suite Development had entered into a loan agreement with it.

Ong also allegedly “dishonestly induced” CCJ Investments to disburse a sum of S$6 million.

In the latest charge sheets, it was stated that Ong committed this offence through multiple acts of forgery sometime around February 18 this year.

In all instances, it involved the signing of documents between the two companies. DPP Khoo said that Ong had signed the documents as Tan Kwang Yong James, the sole director and shareholder of Suite Development.

The documents involved were:

* A deed of guarantee

* A mortgage paper

* Two director’s resolutions

* A shareholder’s resolution

* An instrument of transfer

* A letter addressed to the company secretary of Suite Development

* A deed of charge over shares

Some 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 on June 1.

Ong went missing last month after listed engineering firm Allied Technologies said on May 23 in a Singapore Exchange (SGX) filing that it was making a police report. Allied Technologies had been told by JLC Advisors — the law firm holding its escrow account — that S$33.4 million from the account may have been paid out under Ong’s instruction.

The maximum sentence for each charge of cheating and forgery is 10 years’ jail and a fine.

Ong continues to be remanded in custody until the case returns to court on June 20. — TODAY