Singapore — Dr Goh Jin Hian, the son of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, has resigned as Chairman of the Cordlife Group following news that he was served with a lawsuit by Inter-Pacific Petroleum’s (IPP) judicial managers due to US$156 million (S$212.6 million) in losses stemming from an alleged breach of director’s duties.
Cordlife Group, a firm that offers cord blood and cord lining banking as well as other services, issued the following statement in a filing with the Singapore Exchange shortly before midnight on Monday (Oct 5), according to straitstimes.com (ST).
“In view of the above, in order to devote more time to his personal affairs, Dr Goh will be stepping down as Chairman of the board with immediate effect, but will continue to serve as ID (independent director) of the company.”
Earlier on Monday, it was reported that Dr Goh was being sued by the judicial managers of IPP. The suit had been filed late in the evening of Friday (Oct 2) in the High Court by LVM Law Chambers, the legal representatives of Deloitte & Touche, IPP’s judicial managers.
Deloitte & Touche are seeking to recover the said amount, plus interest, alleging that the funds were used in “non-existent or sham transactions” made between June and July last year.
Dr Goh told ST he was “surprised that the judicial managers have commenced an action so unilaterally”, saying that he had not been asked by them for his full side of the story.
He said: “I have raised various queries and concerns to the JMs: How the banks could have let the debt build up to US$160 million when this was meant to be back-to-back financing or very short term loans? Have the JMs challenged the bank’s entitlement to this payment?
“What did the banks who are experts in trade financing miss that I should have picked up? What should I have done as a director that I did not do?”
According to Cordlife, its board and nominating committee had only recently heard of the lawsuit from Deloitte & Touche, adding that it believes Dr Goh “has the character and integrity suitable to continue as ID of the company” and that “given his qualifications, expertise and experience” it is in Cordlife’s best interests that he does so.
Last month, the judicial managers investigating IPP, a shuttered Singapore bunker supplier and bunker craft operator, submitted a filing to the High Court asking for more time to consider whether to take Dr Goh to court.
TISG reported on Sept 17 that IPP began to go under after the crew of a vessel chartered by the firm was charged over bunkering malpractices. The crew had tampered with a mass flowmeter, illegally using magnets to increase its readings to claim that it had delivered more fuel during bunkering operations than it was actually carrying.
IPP’s bunker craft operator licence was temporarily suspended by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) last June. Dr Goh, an IPP director at the time, called MPA’s move “premature” and stated that the authority should have “discussed the incident with us giving us a chance to review the facts”.
On Aug 16, IPP and its parent company Inter-Pacific Group Pte Ltd filed for judicial management at the High Court and appointed Deloitte & Touche LLP as their judicial managers. Dr Goh left IPP four days later, after having been at the firm since June 2011. /TISG