SINGAPORE: The civil trial against billionaire Lim Oon Kuin and his son and daughter began on Aug 10 (Thursday). The liquidators of Lim’s oil trading company seek to recover S$4.7 billion to pay off creditors.
The 81-year-old tycoon, more popularly known as OK Lim, founded Hin Leong Trading and was once among the richest people in Singapore. However, he filed for bankruptcy in April 2020, and has since been facing a slew of legal problems.
Lim, along with his son Evan Lim Chee Meng and his daughter Lim Huey Ching, allegedly presented Hin Leong as profitable for many years to keep receiving financing despite posting losses, and liquidators now say that the Lim family must be held accountable.
An AFP report said in 2020 that Hin Leong had “in truth not been making profits in the last few years”, even though its official records showed it to be in the black for 2019.
Liquidators for Hin Leong now seek an order for the three to pay S$4.7 billion, the full amount of the firm’s unsecured debts as of April 2020.
The collapsed company has over 20 bank creditors, including HSBC, UOB, OCBC, and DBS. HSBC was the company’s biggest lender, to whom Hin Leong owes US$600 million. The bank is now seeking a return of $85 million, a fraction of what it’s owed.
Hin Leong owes UOB US$100 million, OCBC US$200 million, and DBS Bank US$290 million.
Liquidators also seek that a declaration be issued stating that the three Lims are held personally responsible for all of the firm’s debts. Additionally, they seek that the three give back US$90 million in dividends received in 2017 and 2018.
Hin Leong went into compulsory liquidation in 2020, with independent accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) overseeing the restructuring of Hin Leong’s debt.
The endeavour to recover debts owed by Lim’s company is considered the largest legal case in living memory in Singapore.
By 2021, creditors had been able to recover only S$359 million from Hin Leong.
Liquidators had requested the High Court to freeze assets belonging to the Lim family all over the globe, from multi-million-dollar homes to shares, funds and country club memberships. /TISG