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NewOcean Petroleum to ‘vigorously contest’ against Societe Generale lawsuit

14 Oct 2019

The following article was first published by Manifold Times on Monday (14 October) morning:

Hong Kong-listed NewOcean Energy Holdings Limited (NewOcean Energy) on Friday (11 October) said its bunkering subsidiary NewOcean Petroleum Company Limited (NewOcean Petroleum) will be defending itself against a legal suit from the Singapore branch of Societe Generale at the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Societe Generale on 17 September 2019 added Pacific Dragon (Hong Kong) Energy Limited (Pacific Dragon), a company identified as Daisho Microline Holdings Limited (DMHL) and its Chairman Madam Cheung Lai Na, to a list of defendants for different combinations of claims in different amounts.

The claims included allegations of conspiracy to defraud, breach of deed of assignment, breach of trade finance facility, breach of corporate guarantee and breach of personal guarantee, according to NewOcean Energy.

Pacific Dragon is a trade debtor of NewOcean Petroleum who still had outstanding debt from various purchases of marine fuel made under a Master Sales and Purchase Contract (Contract) executed in December 2018.

Additionally, DMHL also provided ship mortgages of two Singapore-flagged bunker barges (either owned directly or indirectly by DMHL) to NewOcean Petroleum as part of the Contract.

On 8 October 2019, Societe Generale included NewOcean Petroleum as a defendant to the lawsuit at Hong Kong and sought, among other things, a declaration that NewOcean Petroleum is liable to Societe Generale, “as a constructive trustee with regard to a sum of USD 20,498,997.81 received and/or dealt with wrongfully.”

“The Company and NewOcean Petroleum strongly deny such allegation,” stated NewOcean Energy.

“The Directors of NewOcean Petroleum have reviewed all trading documents and records relating to transactions between Pacific Dragon and NewOcean Petroleum under the Contract, and are fully satisfied that all transactions between them are bona fide commercial sale and purchase transactions that all monies received by NewOcean Petroleum in these transactions are, or in connect with goods sold and delivered, and in no way connected with any of the matters as alleged in the Writ.

“The legal team of NewOcean Petroleum has taken external legal advice and are convinced that the Plaintiff’s claim against NewOcean Petroleum in the re-amended Writ will fail, NewOcean Petroleum will in any event vigorously contest all the Plaintiff’s claims and seek costs.”

Moving forward, NewOcean Petroleum said it will be starting legal proceedings against DMHL to enforce its guarantee under the Contract due to unpaid outstanding trade debt, overdue interest charges owed by Pacific Dragon, and ship mortgages of two Singapore-flagged bunker barges owned directly or indirectly by DMHL.

“NewOcean Petroleum has instructed its external legal adviser to immediately commence legal proceedings for recovery of the outstanding amount together with all costs.”

DMHL Chairman is a Director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum Pte Ltd and Inter-Pacific Group Pte Ltd

DMHL Chairman Madam Cheung Lai Na, also known as Zoe Cheung, is also a director of Inter-Pacific Petroleum Pte Ltd (IPP) and its parent company Inter-Pacific Group Pte Ltd (IPG) – firms which have filed for interim judicial management on 16 August at the High Court of the Republic of Singapore – according to court documents seen by Manifold Times.

Significant and verifiable liabilities of IPP totalled USD 181.63 million consisted of trade financing from SocGen with an outstanding amount of USD 96.3 million, MayBank banking facilities of USD 69.8 million, account payables of USD 2.43 million to 10 players, and others.

The bunker craft operator licence of IPP was temporarily suspended by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on 27 June.

Former crew members of a Singapore-flagged bunker tanker (IMO 9199701) chartered by IPP, now renamed as Fragrance, are in the middle of trials at the State Courts of Singapore over tampering of a mass flowmeter.

Related: Magnets on MFMs: Trial starts for former bunker clerk of “Consort Justice”
RelatedFirst suspect charged over MFM tampering in landmark case
Related: With nearly $180 million of debt, IPP proposes interim juridical management
RelatedMagnets on MFMs: “Consort Justice” crew pleads ‘not guilty’ to tampering charge
RelatedIPP responds to temporary suspension of bunker craft operator licence
RelatedMPA temporarily suspends IPP bunker craft operator licence
RelatedSingapore: Bunker Cargo officer, crew face charges over alleged MFM tampering


Photo credit: Wpcpey [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Published: 14 October, 2019


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