Defence staff seeks bail for lawyer who left Singapore after S$33mil went lacking

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SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Lawyers for a man facing a slew of cheating, forgery and criminal breach of trust charges involving a massive sum of nearly US$76 million have applied for him to be granted bail, arguing that he has been in remand for two years.

In a bail review on Friday (March 26), one of Jeffrey Ong Su Aun’s lawyers, Tan Hee Joek, told the court that his client is a “true blue Singaporean” from a “respectable family” who also has a sibling holding a “senior position in public service”.

His sibling’s identity was not revealed in court.

Tan also said that Ong has a three-year-old son whom he “loves deeply” and stressed that his client had never been in trouble with the law prior to this case.

The lawyer, who said that Ong had “derived no personal benefits” from his alleged offences, added: “He should not be deprived of bail to be granted.”

The bail review has been adjourned to April 9.

During proceedings in 2019, the prosecution had objected to Ong being granted bail, arguing that he is a “flight risk”.

Ong, a lawyer, faces more than 70 charges involving $69.2 million and US$4.85 million (S$6.5 million).

In total, he has been slapped with 31 criminal breach of trust charges and 45 charges for offences such as forgery and cheating.

Ong, now 43, was a managing partner of law firm JLC Advisors when more than $33 million held in escrow in the firm for a client went missing.

Escrow is an essential service in capital markets that supports transactions such as mergers and acquisitions.

Ong is no longer with the firm and a search on Friday showed that he is not listed on the Legal Services Regulatory Authority E-Services.

After the monies went missing from the law firm, Ong left Singapore for Malaysia in a private-hire car on May 13,2019.

He moved into a hotel in Kuala Lumpur and became uncontactable three days later. However, he was tracked down and officers from the Royal Malaysia Police arrested him that same month.

Ong was found in possession of a stolen Malaysian passport which he had obtained from a friend known only as Calvin.

The passport was issued to a 43-year-old man whose photograph bore some resemblance to Ong. He was repatriated to Singapore on May 30,2019.

If convicted of criminal breach of trust as an attorney, Ong can either be jailed for life or jailed for up to 20 years and fined.

For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined.- The Straits Times/Asia News Network