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Singapore files 105 new charges against oil trader Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim

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By Reuters
Singapore adds to charges against oil trader Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim
Singapore adds to charges against oil trader Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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By Chen Lin

SINGAPORE -Singapore’s public prosecutor on Thursday filed an additional 105 charges against Lim Oon Kuin, the founder of collapsed oil trading firm Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, relating to $2.23 billion in fraudulent disbursements.

Hin Leong, one of Asia’s largest oil traders, was wound up in March after failing to restructure some $4 billion in debt following a crash in the oil price during the coronavirus pandemic that exposed earlier financial troubles.

The new charges followed 25 forgery-related charges filed against Lim last year and in April this year. They comprised 68 charges of cheating, 36 of conspiracy to commit forgery and one of conspiracy to forge a valuable security.

The prosecutor told the State Court the latest charges related to $2.23 billion which was fraudulently disbursed, adding that $262 million had not been repaid.

Lim allegedly deceived at least 14 banks, including ANZ, DBS, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Societe Generale, into believing that Hin Leong had entered contracts with BP Singapore, a unit of BP, for fuel trades between 2019 and 2020, charge sheets showed.

The forgery charges were in addition to similar charges that accused Lim of abetting and conspiring with a Hin Leong employee to procure false records of oil quality inspection documents from employees of Amspec Testing Services Pte Ltd.

Lim was also accused of abetting and conspiring with another Hin Leong employee to forge a bill of lading document as a valuable security in March 2020.

When asked to comment on the allegations, Lim told Reuters: “I’ll talk when there’s opportunity. I’m not feeling well now.”

Lim’s lawyer declined to comment on the case on Thursday. A BP spokesman said the company is unable to comment as court proceedings are ongoing.

The oil trading firm, set up in 1973, is owned by Lim and his children Evan Lim and Lim Huey Ching.

At the hearing, the judge increased Lim’s bail amount by S$1 million ($743,000) to S$4 million. A pre-trial conference was set for Aug. 5.

A Singapore court in May approved a freeze on up to $3.5 billion of Lim family assets, boosting the prospect of debt recovery from the former oil trading empire that counts some of the world’s biggest banks among its creditors.

($1 = 1.3457 Singapore dollars)

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