Singapore — After a Reuters report on Aug 22 showed doctored photos of former United States President Barack Obama with the founders of the Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group and shed light on several inconsistencies in its marketing material, the group admitted to having altered the photos but “denied that the company had deliberately made any false claims about certain aspects of its business”.
The BN Group, which had earlier been in the limelight for announcing its intention to buy the Newcastle United football club, was founded by Singaporean businessmen and cousins Terence Loh and Nelson Loh as well as Chinese jewellery merchant Evangeline Shen.
In a new development, however, the group released a statement on Tuesday (Aug 25) which put the blame for the marketing material in question on other individuals.
The statement, quoted in a straitstimes.com report, said that “the posting of the marketing material, which include matters in the pipeline but which have not been concluded, appears to be the result of the actions of certain errant individuals, possibly with malicious intent”.
The company has launched an investigation into the matter. It added that inquiries from the media would temporarily be halted until the investigation is concluded.
The straitstimes.com report added that a number of business-related media releases distributed by PR Newswire in the last two months had been retracted by the company, including one that referred to a private meeting with Mr Obama. The BN Group issued a note via PR Newswire telling the press and other readers that they “should disregard” those releases.
It seems as though a number of changes have occurred since the Reuters story, including the resignation of Mr Kirk Wagar, a former US Ambassador to Singapore, from his independent director position in Axington, a company related to the BN Group.
The straitstimes.com report quoted Mr Wagar as saying: “Due to the recent revelations, I have resigned that position and asked for Axington to advise Singapore Exchange and any other relevant parties of that fact.”
In addition, the BN Group website is now under restricted access, with guests required to provide a password. Another website, www.lohbrothersfoundation.org, which was reportedly put up by the Lohs to provide support for Singaporean sports groups, can no longer be accessed as well.
Mr Terence Loh and Mr Nelson Loh issued a statement that said: “We have recently discovered the existence of a website www.lohbrothersfoundation.org.
“While we had intended to set up a charitable foundation and had purchased the said domain name, the entity has yet to be set up. It appears that the contents of the website were released prematurely and we are taking steps to address this.
“The premature posting of the contents of the website appears to be the result of the actions of certain errant individuals.” /TISG