SINGAPORE: The Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) said on Friday (May 24) that it has taken control of funds held by law firm JLC Advisors, after its managing director Jeffrey Ong went missing along with S$33 million belonging to engineering firm Allied Technologies.
All monies held by JLC, including monies held by JLC on behalf of its clients or third parties, is now under the control of LawSoc, it said.
The move is in accordance with LawSoc's statutory power of intervention under the First Schedule of the Legal Profession Act.
LawSoc did so "in furtherance of its duty to protect and safeguard the interests of clients and third parties", it said in a joint statement with Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGXRegCo).
It said that credible information was given to the society on May 21 about the conduct of Mr Ong, which gave its council "reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Ong".
In a Singapore Exchange filing on Thursday, Allied Technologies said it would file a police report over an unauthorised payout of S$33 million from its escrow account held by JLC Advisors on the instructions of Mr Ong.
Before its SGX filing, Allied Tech said it had made repeated demands since Mar 23 for JLC to release the balance of its escrow funds.
LawSoc also stated that its next move would be to conduct an investigative audit on the client accounts of JLC.
"In carrying out this audit, the Law Society will inquire into all the facts and circumstances surrounding the operation of JLC’s client accounts, and the role played by Ong," said LawSoc in its statement.
"Following the investigative audit and the findings made therein, the Law Society will issue such statements to its members and to the public as considered appropriate."
LawSoc also added that interventions of this nature due to reasonable suspicions of dishonesty are rare.
"Nevertheless, the Law Society does so where merited and appropriate to safeguard public interest and the integrity of the legal profession including the vast majority of Singapore lawyers, who carry out their duties with honesty, fidelity and responsibly," it said.
Mr Ong started his career in litigation & dispute resolution before expanding his practice to cover contentious restructuring and corporate advisory work, according to JLC's website.
He specialised in corporate restructuring and also advised the boards of several public companies listed on the Singapore and Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Mr Ong had on Monday resigned from Annica Holdings as non-executive and independent director, citing personal reasons.