Singapore Lawyer Jeffrey Ong Jailed 19 years For Criminal Breach Of Trust

Former lawyer Jeffrey Ong Su Aun was sentenced to 19 years’ jail on Monday (Jul 17) for cheating and misappriopriating millions of dollars that he had access to as an attorney.

Ong’s offences involve almost S$76 million in misappropriated or cheated funds, with victims suffering monetary losses of about S$64 million and Ong benefiting about S$7.2 million.

The former managing partner of JLC Advisors LLP pleaded guilty to multiple charges including cheating and dishonestly inducing a sum of S$6 million to be disbursed, criminal breach of trust as an attorney involving about S$33 million, and conspiring to commit criminal breach of trust involving about $14 million.

In sentencing, Senior District Judge Bala Reddy said this case reveals “a reprehensible instance of misconduct perpetrated by a lawyer, whose actions have not only betrayed the fundamental principles of the profession but have also eroded society’s trust in legal practitioners”.

“Formerly a member of a respected vocation, the accused now faces charges encompassing criminal misappropriation, breach of trust, forgery, and cheating, which strike at the very heart of ethical conduct,” said the judge. 

“This lamentable situation not only tarnishes the individual lawyer’s reputation but also casts a sombre shadow over the collective integrity of the entire legal community.”

He said Ong was “actively engaged in criminal activities”. Over about a week in May 2019, multiple police reports were filed with the Commercial Affairs Department that Ong had misappropriated millions of dollars from client escrow accounts and committed forgery.

CAD’s investigation uncovered “extensive misappropriation of clients’ funds” by Ong, over a period of at least three years.

He used some funds to repay his personal loans, and issued a forged cheque before fleeing Singapore in an attempt to evade arrest.

Ong then stayed in Malaysia under a false identity, the court heard. However, he was apprehended by the Royal Malaysian Police and escorted back to Singapore.

The total monetary loss caused by the accused’s offences amounted to about S$64 million, with Ong personally benefiting from about S$7.2 million, said the judge. He has made no restitution.

Ong was struck off the rolls in September 2022.

CNA

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