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ALLIED TECH SAGA

JLC Advisors' partner Jeffrey Ong faces S$6m cheating charge

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JLC Advisors managing partner Jeffrey Ong said via video link on Thursday that he hoped that the next mention date could be earlier, in response to the prosecution's request that his remand be extended by another week for police investigations.

Singapore

JLC Advisors managing partner Jeffrey Ong Su Aun was a picture of calm on Thursday when he requested that the judge balance the prosecution's application to extend his period of remand with his wish to be bailed out earlier.

The 41-year-old, clad in a chilli-red polo shirt and dark trousers, made the request via video link, when his case came up for mention.

The Singaporean was arrested in Malaysia and sent back to Singapore on May 30. He was charged in court on June 1 with one count of cheating.

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He had become uncontactable from mid-May after allegedly ordering a possibly "unauthorised" payout of S$33 million held in escrow by his law firm for Catalist-listed precision engineering firm Allied Technologies.

But the single charge of cheating relates to his allegedly deceiving another company, CCJ Investment, out of S$6 million on Feb 19.

He is said to have used S$3.3 million of the funds to refinance real estate developer Suite Development's mortgage loan, and deposited the remaining S$2.7 million into JLC Advisors' client account.

The charge sheet did not have particulars about CCJ Investments and Suite Development, but a Business Profile search revealed that Suite Development has only one shareholder, James Tan Kwang Yong, who holds 500,000 shares.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Khoo, with his colleagues Kang Jiahui and Kelvin Chong, on Thursday asked the district judge to further remand Ong at the Central Police Station till June 13 - another week - "in order for the CAD (Commercial Affairs Department) to complete investigations", which were said to "cover a wide area".

DPP Khoo said: "The CAD has conducted two raids in the meantime. They need a further week."

The request was granted.

In response, Ong said he understood that the extension was being requested for operational reasons, but asked that those reasons be balanced against his wish for an earlier bail date because the place where he was being remanded "is not really designed for lock-up stay".

He further said he understood that things were in a state of flux and the police were carrying out investigations, but asked whether further remand was necessary; he added that he hoped the next mention date would be set a few days earlier.

If convicted of cheating, he could be imprisoned for up to 10 years and also fined.

He could face charges other than cheating.

The police told The Business Times on Thursday that Ong was arrested in relation to his alleged misappropriation of S$33 million from the escrow account held by JLC Advisors.

A statement from the police said: "A police report was lodged on May 21 regarding the case. The police subsequently sought the assistance of the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) to locate and arrest Jeffrey Ong, who had left Singapore before investigations commenced.

"With the cooperation and assistance of the RMP, Jeffrey Ong was arrested and brought back to Singapore on May 30." The police are unable to comment further, with the case before the courts.

Ong's arrest came after the CAD called in Allied Tech's 31-year-old executive director Kenneth Low Si Ren on May 28 to help with investigations.

Information, records and documents were seized from the company's premises and those of its subsidiaries, including Asia Box Office and Activpass Holdings.

Allied Tech shares last traded at 1.1 Singapore cents on May 2.

Trading was halted the following day, but the halt has since been converted to a voluntary trading suspension.