Ng Yu Zhi back in court, faces 18 new charges over billion-dollar nickel trading scheme that involved high profile investors

SINGAPORE – Businessman Ng Yu Zhi, who is embroiled in one of Singapore’s biggest investment fraud schemes, was slapped with 18 more charges over his role in a nickel trading scheme that allegedly cheated investors of at least $1.2 billion.

Clad in a black jacket, white shirt and khaki trousers, the bespectacled Singaporean sat alone in State Courts as fresh charges were read to him prior to the start of his hearing on Monday (Oct 25) afternoon.

The new charges bring the total number to 69, including those for forgery and criminal breach of trust. In August, 20 counts of cheating involving more than $16 million and US$200,000 (S$269,000) were filed against him.

Ng, 34, whose bail of $4 million was extended on Monday, is expected to be back in court for further mention on Dec 20.

Deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Kevin Yong asked the court for the matter and further mentions to be adjourned for eight more weeks in order to complete investigations.

“We are not asking for an increase in bail now, but we are reserving the rights to ask for this for the current set of additional charges or any further charges that may be tendered,” he said.

Lawyer Rajvinder Singh Chahal, who is representing Ng, said he has no objection to the prosecution’s application but asked “how long more investigations will continue and whether this adjournment is likely to be the last one”.

DPP Yong said he “cannot confirm if this is the last adjournment for further investigations”.

Part of the reason for the prosecution’s application is that “Ng was going to make restitution, or give a plan to make restitution”.

When asked about the plan by The Straits Times after the hearing, Mr Singh, a senior associate with Davinder Singh Chambers, said he has “no instructions to speak”.

Ng is a director of Envy Asset Management and Envy Global Trading (EGT), which allegedly raised at least $1 billion from investors for fake deals related to nickel trading. He was arrested in February this year, and first charged with cheating and fraudulent trading in March.

The charges alleged that Ng had duped 20 parties between last September and January this year into buying some receivables from EGT’s purported sale of nickel to a firm named Raffemet, when no such transaction was made.

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Investors were allegedly promised varying returns, depending on the nickel trading schemes they joined. They include Temasek Holdings general counsel Pek Siok Lan, Vickers Venture Partners founder Finian Tan and former Law Society president Thio Shen Yi.

If convicted, Ng could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating.

For each count of fraudulent trading, he could be jailed for up to seven years, fined up to $15,000, or both. For each count of forgery, he could be jailed for up to four years and fined.

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