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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Danny Ong

Danny Ong

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP9 Battery Road #25-01SingaporeSingapore049910
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Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Danny specialises in complex cross-border fraud and asset recovery investigations and litigation, having been involved in some of the most significant fraud matters seen in the Asia-Pacific region, including most recently arising from the 1MDB debacle and investments in ICOs and cryptocurrencies. He is also deeply experienced and known for his work in multi-jurisdictional headline insolvencies, and in international commercial disputes, acting for corporations across a multitude of industries.

What motivates you as an asset recovery lawyer?

The privilege of assisting victims of fraud in successfully unravelling complex schemes to hide assets across multiple jurisdictions, and recovering assets for these victims.   

What makes cryptocurrencies and digital wallets so vulnerable to hacking and fraud?

The fact that owners of digital wallets not only transact on the web, but are likely to leave traces of sensitive data necessary to gain access to such wallets, render digital wallets a natural target for fraudsters. Add to that the ability to siphon cryptocurrencies held in these wallets to one or more anonymous digital wallets.

What challenges does the lack of regulation in this area pose?

It follows from the absence of regulation across most jurisdictions in the cryptocurrency space that investors and users are exposed to significant risk of fraud, particularly in respect of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency trading. The key challenge, as I see it, is often the disproportionate resources required to unravel such fraud and trace and recover cryptocurrencies. A reasonable measure of regulation would serve well to manage this challenge and limit the risks involved.    

How does tracing assets and money through the usual banking system compare with tracing through cryptocurrencies and wallets?

It is certainly more challenging! The fact that digital wallets may in a large number of instances be maintained anonymously, without a central party administering them, means that victims of fraud often have difficulty figuring out how to go about embarking on the tracing process.

How do you expect renewed focus on money laundering in financial hubs, stimulated in part by the high-profile Malaysian 1MBD fraud, to influence regulation in Singapore?

Positively. We have already seen significant bolstering of the regulatory and enforcement framework in Singapore to guard against money laundering via financial institutions, commodities trading institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.  The authorities in Singapore have, in my view, been very proactive on this front.

Have you noticed an uptick in any particular areas of your practice recently? What advice would you give regional investors to avoid being targeted by fraudulent schemes?

Apart from the typical financial investment Ponzi schemes, I am seeing a significant increase in cases involving investors defrauded by scam ICOs and both investors and exchanges having their cryptocurrencies misappropriated via hackings. Where these Ponzi schemes and scam ICOs are concerned, I would strongly suggest that potential investors conduct thorough due diligence as to their operators, proclaimed sponsors/advisers/cornerstone investors, corporate structures, and proposed mechanics for application of funds raised. Additionally, one should also be wary if the investment product is being marketed very strongly with promise of high or guaranteed returns or value – as is often said, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

How has the legal market for asset recovery work changed in recent years?

Significantly over the past decade, in two key aspects. First, asset recovery is now widely recognised in many jurisdictions as a specialist field. Second, there is ever-increasing awareness across emerging markets as to the availability and effectiveness of civil proceedings to facilitate asset recovery, which has in turn resulted in the market growing.

To what extent has litigation funding impacted your practice and the market as a whole?

Litigation funding has, in my view, been a real boon to asset recovery initiatives. Cases that would otherwise not have been pursued for lack of funding have been given “life”. This is particularly so in Asia where litigation funding is a relatively new phenomenon.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The “excellent” Danny Ong is commended by sources who impart that "his performance has been outstanding in each matter” and that he is “able to think outside the box".  

Biography

Danny is a partner at Rajah & Tann, the largest legal services provider in South East Asia headquartered in Singapore.

He specialises in a broad range of corporate and commercial dispute work with particular emphasis on cross-border fraud and asset recovery, contentious insolvency, and banking and securities disputes.

Specifically, in the area of fraud and asset recovery, Danny has advised and represented various state-owned companies, governmental agencies, international financial institutions, and liquidators, in the investigation and prosecution of claims involving complex multi-jurisdictional corporate and commercial fraud and breaches of fiduciary duties, enforcement of foreign judgments, and the recovery and tracing of assets globally, involving billions of dollars. In the last decade, he has been involved in some of the highest-profile cross-border fraud matters to be seen in Singapore and the region, including more recently, matters involving the recovery of cryptocurrencies.

Danny is a member of the ICC Commercial Crime Services’ FraudNet network, and has been recognised in leading legal publications in his areas of expertise, including as a Thought Leader in the field of asset recovery by WWL. Danny graduated from the National University of Singapore and is admitted to the Singapore Bar, as well as the Rolls of Solicitors of the High Courts of Hong Kong, and England and Wales.

Litigation

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The "commercially savvy and very responsive" Danny Ong is "extremely experienced in complex cross-border financial disputes" and is noted as "one of the best specialists in this space".

Biography

Danny is a partner at Rajah & Tann, the largest legal services provider in South East Asia headquartered in Singapore.

He specialises in a broad range of corporate and commercial dispute work with particular emphasis on cross-border fraud and asset recovery, contentious insolvency, and banking and securities disputes.

Specifically, in the area of fraud and asset recovery, Danny has advised and represented various state-owned companies, governmental agencies, international financial institutions, and liquidators, in the investigation and prosecution of claims involving complex multi-jurisdictional corporate and commercial fraud and breaches of fiduciary duties, enforcement of foreign judgments, and the recovery and tracing of assets globally, involving billions of dollars. In the last decade, he has been involved in some of the highest-profile cross-border fraud matters to be seen in Singapore and the region, including more recently, matters involving the recovery of cryptocurrencies.

Danny is a member of the ICC Commercial Crime Services’ FraudNet network, and has been recognised in leading legal publications in his areas of expertise, including as a Thought Leader in the field of asset recovery by WWL. Danny graduated from the National University of Singapore and is admitted to the Singapore Bar, as well as the Rolls of Solicitors of the High Courts of Hong Kong, and England and Wales.

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