SINGAPORE: A man who faked his own death while released on bail pending an appeal hearing has been sentenced to an additional 18 months' jail.
Ng Kek Wee, the former director of Singalab International, was previously sentenced to 30 months' jail on May 4, 2017 for misappropriating 3 million shares from a subsidiary of the company, police said on Monday (Feb 17).
Ng appealed against his conviction and sentence, and was released on bail while his case was pending before the Court of Appeal. He was granted permission by the State Courts to travel to China for work purposes.
FAKE FLIGHT ITINERARY
The 55-year-old's appeal hearing was fixed for Jul 20, 2018. On the day of the appeal, Ng's lawyer Lim Chee San successfully applied for an adjournment on the basis Ng was seeking treatment in China for "various medical ailments" and was unfit for travel back to Singapore, court documents said.
The appeal hearing was moved to Sep 14, 2018, when Mr Lim applied for another adjournment because of the same reasons. The appeal hearing was adjourned again to Mar 15, 2019.
Mr Lim told the court Ng would be returning for the appeal, and the lawyer was directed by the State Courts to upload a copy of Ng's flight itinerary into the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) as proof of his intent to return to Singapore.
"The accused was in China at that time and intended to remain out of jurisdiction and not return for the appeal hearing on Mar 15, 2019. The accused decided to use a forged death certificate to show the court that he had passed away," court documents said.
Ng paid RMB300 (S$60) for an unidentified person in China to create a fake flight itinerary that showed he was scheduled to return to Singapore on Mar 13, 2019 at 12.15pm on Shenzhen Airlines from Shenzhen.
The fake itinerary also showed he would make a stopover in Indonesia, where he had created a forged death certificate.
Ng sent the itinerary to Mr Lim, who uploaded it onto ICMS, unaware that it was fake.
FORGED DEATH CERTIFICATE
Some time in February 2019, Ng travelled to Indonesia and contacted a person named Ali Ruslan to forge a death certificate stating that Ng had died in Indonesia on Mar 10, 2019, court documents show.
He paid Ali Ruslan S$2,000 for the death certificate and asked him to send it to Mr Lim. His lawyer presented it to court on the date of the appeal hearing.
If the death certificate had been accepted as genuine, his appeal would have been abated.
"If the appeal had been abated, the authorities would not have been able to take any further steps, such as issue a warrant of arrest or an Interpol notice, to apprehend the accused," court documents said.
"The accused had therefore intended to evade apprehension by the authorities when he instigated Lim to tender a forged death certificate."
In order to confirm Ng's death, the Commercial Affairs Department carried out checks and found out that Ng had left Indonesia on Mar 3, 2019, a week before his purported death.
He had also been travelling on his Singapore passport between Mar 3, 2019 and Apr 3, 2019, flying between Malaysia and China during the time he was supposedly dead.
Ng was arrested with the assistance of the Royal Malaysian Police in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 13, 2019 when he used his Singapore passport to enter Malaysia, and was brought back to Singapore to face his charges.
On Monday, Ng pleaded guilty to abetting the provision of false information to a public servant, abetting the fabrication of false evidence in a judicial proceeding, and failing to attend court knowingly and without reasonable excuse. He was sentenced to an additional 18 months' jail.