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The firm of Goh Chok Tong’s son under investigation for possible security breach

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The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) has launched a probe into New Silkroutes Group (NSG), over a possible breach of the Securities and Futures Act of Singapore, a Singapore Exchange filing shows.

NSG’s chief executive and executive director is ex-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s son, Goh Jin Hian.

The investigation against NSG is unrelated to the possible legal action against Dr Goh for alleged breaches of his director’s duties at troubled bunker supplier firm Inter-Pacific Petroleum.

Dr Goh, a doctor by training, left the healthcare sector to join oil and gas firm Digiland in 2014. He told the Straits Times that his decision to exit a familiar field was “a kind of midlife crisis” and added, “Even my own parents thought I was nuts” for wanting to switch sectors.

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The doctor-businessman was made executive director of Digiland in June 2015. He became Digiland’s CEO/Executive Director a month later and still holds the top post at the firm, which was renamed NSG.

Interestingly, NSG has been trying to divest its oil trading business to focus on healthcare without success since Dr Goh joined the firm.

In July this year, it was announced that Dr Goh will retire as NSG’s CEO on 1 Oct and take over as company chairman. Days before the transition officially takes place, the CAD launched an investigation against the mainboard-listed investment holding firm.

The CAD and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) asked NSG to provide certain information and documents for the investigation, on Thursday (24 Sept).

MAS is Singapore’s central bank while the CAD is the principal agency that safeguards Singapore’s integrity as a world-class financial and commercial centre through law enforcement.

Dr Goh told the Singapore Exchange on Friday (25 Sept) that NSG’s business and operations remain unaffected and will continue as normal. He further said that the probe will “not affect the management of the group in the discharge of their respective roles and functions.”

The CEO also said that his firm will fully cooperate with the CAD and MAS and that NSG’s firm’s directors and certain senior management and former management executives are assisting with the investigation.

Among those who are assisting with the probe is NSG’s former chief corporate officer and executive director Kelvyn Oo Cheong Kwan, who resigned from the firm last month to “pursue a personal interest and other opportunities” before joining Teho International as an independent director.

Teho told SGX that the probe is “not related to the company or the group, and…does not affect their business and operations.”

It added: “As at the date of this announcement, the board is of the view that Mr Oo’s assistance in the investigation does not compromise (his) performance of his duties professionally as an independent director.”

The probe against NSG comes about a month after the firm reported a loss in its latest results.

On 27 Aug, the firm reported that it has ended the fourth quarter on 30 June with a net loss of US$2.28 million compared to a profit of US$227,000 recorded in the same quarter a year ago. It reported a full-year loss of US$1.95 million from a previous loss of US$684,000.

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