Accountant 'pocketed' $40m from clients

Accountant 'pocketed' $40m from clients

An accountant specialising in insolvency cases was tasked with liquidating 21 companies and managing the finances of another. It is alleged that he took them to the cleaners instead.

He is accused of pocketing more than $40 million from these firms, and used most of the money to gamble and pay off his creditors, a court heard yesterday.

Ewe Pang Kooi, 61, allegedly misappropriated $40,622,169 and US$147,000 (S$196,300) in all.

The licensed liquidator and managing partner of certified public accounting firm Ewe, Loke & Partners was hit with 693 charges yesterday.

These involved offences that he allegedly committed between February 2002 and July 2012, including multiple counts of criminal breach of trust, forgery and cheating. To conceal his acts, he allegedly made false declarations to a commissioner of oaths in 236 instances.

He is said to have cashed in at least $1,114,195 of it for gambling chips at Singapore's two casinos.

Ewe was liquidating several subsidiaries of technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP). The case came to light when he tried to put off convening the final meetings, after which, dividends would have to be paid out.

HP, Technology Partners International (TPI) and a partner of Ewe's firm made police reports against him.

In 2007, TPI had engaged E&M Management Consultants, where Ewe was a director, to manage its accounting needs and Singapore bank account. Ewe is said to have misappropriated $10,581,000 and $678,981 from TPI and E&M's clients' account respectively.

He has been remanded in Changi Prison as he is unable to raise the $4 million bail on offer.

A bail review hearing will take place today and his case will next be heard on Feb 5.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said that, in the meantime, the prosecution will write to the High Court to have the matter transferred there, in the light of the amount involved in the charges.

Ewe, a permanent resident from Malaysia, is represented by Peter Doraisamy.

If convicted, Ewe could be jailed for life or up to 10 years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust as an agent.

For using the benefits of criminal conduct, he could face a maximum penalty of seven years' jail and a $500,000 fine on each count.

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