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Allied Tech executive director Kenneth Low arrested, named as co-accused of Jeffrey Ong in 5 charges

Allied Tech executive director Kenneth Low arrested, named as co-accused of Jeffrey Ong in 5 charges

Source: Business Times
Article Date: 10 Apr 2021
Author: Tay Peck Gek

Prosecution has amended charges; latest development disclosed during Ong's bail review application on Friday.

Kenneth Low Si Ren, Allied Technologies' executive director - who has been implicated by JLC Advisors' former managing partner as being allegedly responsible for the Catalist-listed firm's missing escrow funds - has been arrested.

His arrest was made on Wednesday, The Business Times understands, but he has not been charged.

Allied Tech reported to the police two years ago that over S$33 million held in escrow by JLC Advisors had gone missing while the law firm's then managing partner Jeffrey Ong Su Aun became incommunicado.

Mr Low was named as the co-accused in five of the charges that Ong is facing after the prosecution amended the charges, and disclosed this development during Ong's bail review application on Friday.

Meanwhile, the district court has adjourned the application hearing to next Tuesday. The prosecution has objected to the application as Ong is deemed a flight risk in this case of "largest amount of money ever misappropriated by a lawyer".

Ong faces 76 charges in total including misappropriation of funds as a lawyer, forgery and cheating, with the total sums amounting to about S$76 million, according to the prosecution.

Lawyer Tan Hee Joek, who represents Ong in the criminal proceedings, said that there is a former Singapore Armed Forces overseas scholar known as Mr Lien who has known Ong for about 30 years and is willing to stand bail for his client.

Ong has been seeking to be bailed out so that he can take out civil proceedings against those he claims to be responsible for the misappropriated funds. He had named Mr Low and Allied Tech's substantial investor Lin Tah Hwa as the persons who had directed the release of the escrow funds.

Ong, 43, in his affidavit to support his bail review application, claimed that the amount of funds held in escrow for Allied Tech was in fact much lower than the over S$33 million reported by the Catalist-listed precision engineering firm.

Among the various allegations made by Ong against Mr Low was that the latter had instructed the release of S$3.2 million of escrow funds for the purchase of Thong Teck Building units. Mr Low had reportedly made a quick flip, selling it to mainboard-listed Top Global on the same day that he took control of the units two years ago.

Ong also alleged that there were instructions from Mr Low or Mr Lin to disburse S$16.9 million of the escrow funds to various parties. However, they had not provided JLC Advisors with release notices as promised, and therefore it appeared that the escrow funds were still intact. The released funds included a total of S$7.7 million to two firms linked to Mr Low, his wholly-owned Platform Capital Asia (PCA) and 49 per cent-held Asia Box Office (ABO).

ABO is an event ticketing solutions provider in which Allied Tech acquired a 51 per cent stake for S$30 million in April 2018.

Ong had also alleged in his affidavit how Mr Low and Mr Lin started taking control of Allied Tech in 2017 as they were acquiring the stakes of then-controlling shareholder Hsu Ching Yuh. They had devised several transactions involving the Catalist-listed firm and directing payments including a S$2 million severance payout by Allied Tech to Mr Hsu when it should have been made by the duo, claimed Ong.

Ong was introduced to Mr Lin, who was said to be a member of the Khoo Teck Puat family as well as the founder of Lin Securities which went bust after the Pan-Electric Industries debacle in 1985.

The investor bought an 8.44 per cent stake in Allied Tech in November 2017, and continued to build up his shareholding before reducing his ownership from 22.79 per cent to 9.49 per cent.

Allied Tech had said that it would be consulting its special auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers Risk Services (PwC), and its auditors at the material time, Ernst & Young, in response to the allegations against Mr Low and Mr Lin.

It would also await the conclusion of the PwC audit or further information before taking further steps to recover the escrow funds placed with JLC.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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