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Civil fraud and asset recovery, Commercial disputes, Company lawWednesday 21 February 2024

Lim and others v Ong

The Defendant was sentenced yesterday to 22 months immediate imprisonment in respect of a vast array of contempts of court, including dealing and dissipating assets in breach of a worldwide freezing order, providing inaccurate ancillary asset disclosure inflating his true asset position, providing false affidavit evidence seeking to justify dissipation, and 59 breaches of the standard form weekly living allowance.

The underlying claim pertained to a property investment fraud perpetrated by the first defendant, and orchestrated through a group of companies (some, but not all of which, were defendants to the proceedings). The defendants were the subject of a wide ranging worldwide freezing order and other injunctions including a quia timet injunction with respect to directorships of certain SPVs.  Aspects of those injunctions were themselves the subject of dispute and were challenged unsuccessfully  (Lim v Ong [2021] EWHC 3414 (Ch)).

The claimants were successful at trial (Lim v Ong [2023] EWHC 321 (Ch)) and thereafter sought to enforce their judgment in England and Singapore. Significant asset dissipation was discovered, and untruthful affidavit evidence was filed by the defendant designed to mislead the claimants. In particular, it became apparent that the defendant had both substantially overstated his assets at the outset of the litigation, and dissipated some of what remained.

The contempt application to commit the defendant alleged 83 separate contempts (falling into 7 broad categories), the sheer scale of the disregard for court orders being highly material (and justifying, in this particular case, extensive and detailed pleadings).  A late admission by the defendant resulted in a 2 month reduction from what would otherwise have been a 24 month custodial sentence.

James Bailey KC and James Goodwin were instructed by Withers and acted for the four successful claimants.

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