SINGAPORE:  Co-founder of Novena Global Healthcare Group Nelson Loh, who a few short years ago had been in “serious” talks to buy football club Newcastle United, was charged with 58 more counts of cheating, forgery, and money laundering offences on Wednesday (Jan 24).

This brings the number of charges Loh, 44, faces to 60. On Dec 26, 2022, the businessman was arrested after being on the run for two years. Michael Wong, 43, an employee of NGHG and a close associate of Loh, was arrested with him. After their arrests, they were remanded at the Police Cantonment Complex.

Read related: Loh cousins go from bid to buy Newcastle United to bankruptcy woes in a few short months

Loh had founded NGHG with his cousin, Terence Loh, 45, and in the past years, the two have run into multiple financial and legal troubles. In July 2021, the High Court granted a bankruptcy order to Terence Loh. Earlier that year, Nelson Loh was also declared bankrupt.

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In December 2022, Nelson Loh was charged with forgery. NGHG faced accusations of using the unauthorised signatures of accounting firm Ernst & Young in its financial statements to obtain S$18 million in bank loans.

This fresh round of charges alleges that Loh conspired with Wong to deceive six financial institutions into believing that the NGHG and Loh’s other companies had been audited, which induced the banks to lend money to the companies.

Novena Global Healthcare Group owes millions of dollars to DBS Bank, Citibank, UOB, Maybank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. The loans, disbursed in July 2019, range from S$1.5 million to S$17 million.

Loh and Wong left Singapore in September of the following year and went on the run. Warrants of Arrest and INTERPOL Red Notice were subsequently issued against them in connection with Police investigations. The two men were caught in China two years later and were brought back to Singapore.

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It has been a steep fall for the Loh cousins, who in 2020 were reportedly in serious talks to buy Newcastle United with another business associate, Ms Evangeline Shen, a Chinese jewellery merchant.

The three founded the Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group, which announced its intention to buy the Newcastle United football club in August 2020.

A few days afterwards, a Reuters report showed doctored photos of former United States President Obama with the founders of the BN Group and highlighted several inconsistencies in its marketing material.

A month later, it was reported that Novena Global Healthcare Group was under investigation after accounting firm Ernst and Young filed a police report over unauthorised signatures on the group’s financial statements.

While Ernst and Young said it had served as the auditor of a Singapore subsidiary of the group in 2017, it clarified that it did not sign off on the documents of Novena Global Healthcare Group. /TISG

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