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Judgment handed down following long-running fraud and contempt proceedings

27 February 2024 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 2 minute read

International law firm Withers has acted for the four claimants in their successful fraud dispute with a former business partner for the misappropriation of monies in property developments across England.

Over the years our client, Mr Lim, invested millions in various real estate projects across England, managed by his former business partner, Mr Ong. In early 2020, it became clear that Mr Ong was misappropriating assets belonging to Mr Lim and had not complied with the terms of the investments. Since the inception of the claim in 2020 which began with a wide ranging worldwide freezing injunction, the Withers team have acted for Mr Lim and his companies. 

As the parties moved towards trial in 2022, Mr Ong and the other defendants continually failed to comply with court deadlines, including disclosure deadlines leading them to be struck out and debarred from defending the claim. Following the trial at the end of 2022, judgment was handed down finding Mr Ong to have acted dishonestly and to be in fraudulent breach of his director's duties [Lim v Ong [2023] EWHC 321 Ch]. Unfortunately, between 2020 – 2024, Mr Ong successively breached various worldwide freezing orders made in the proceedings and made false statements in multiple affidavits sworn with a statement of truth in an apparent attempt to conceal his dissipation of assets. Mr Ong also opened multiple bank accounts which, in breach of various orders, he then concealed from our client and the court. 

Following these breaches, the Claimants began contempt proceedings which were originally listed for a five day trial.  Eventually, due to the strength of the evidence against him, Mr Ong admitted the entirety of the allegations. Last week, Mr Ong was sentenced 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 payment restriction breaches. [Lim v Ong [2024] EWHC 373 Ch].

Withers dispute resolution partner Roberto Moruzzi comments: "This has been a long and complex case in which we were ultimately made to uphold the integrity of the Court's orders. The recent judgment is a stark reminder to respondents of freezing injunctions about how seriously the court takes breaches of this nature."

Roberto Moruzzi led the Withers team representing Mr Lim, working with Joshua Swift, Laura Mattar, Diana Tarnavskaia and Eve Gatenby. James Bailey KC and James Goodwin of Wilberforce Chambers were instructed by Withers.  

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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