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PwC probes uncover mass grave of financial skeletons and alleged fraud within HLT

24 Jun 2020

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Advisory Services, interim judicial managers of financially troubled Hin Leong Trading (HLT), have pronounced the company has no likelihood of restructuring independently as investigations have uncovered rampant practice of alleged fraud on a “massive scale” to conceal debts over the past decade, reported The Business Times.

PwC submitted a report to the Singapore High Court on Monday (22 June) on HLT’s current financial state and noted that in its 2019 financial report, HLT had overstated USD 2.23 billion in accounts receivables that are unlikely to be salvaged and another USD 0.8 billion in inventory shortages.

PwC stated HLT’s actual assets amounted to about USD 257 million but owed creditors USD 3.5 billion. 

“The overstatement existed to conceal significant losses that the company had accumulated over the years,” explained PwC in its report.

PwC also uncovered HLT’s officers fraudulently created dubious transactions in order to mislead banks on the financial health of the company to obtain financing from banks. 

Such schemes reportedly include “the use of forged documents, non-existent inventory, or the sale of the same inventory to multiple parties”.

In many instances, the transactions did not even appear to bring HLT any commercial gain, suggesting that the main goal of HLT was to remain liquid in order to appear financially viable to creditors. 

More specifically, PwC’s report reads that HLT “engaged in many bilateral or multi-party transactions, where it would buy and sell the same cargo on the same date, or within a short interval, at a loss”, according to The Straits Times.

“These transactions were clearly entered into purely for the sake of obtaining financing and liquidity, as there was no other evident commercial benefit. By structuring its deals in this way, the company could obtain sale proceeds in advance before having to make payment under such letters of credit.”

PwC reportedly diagnosed HLT has no chance to restructure without the owners committing their own assets to turn the ship around as the company would have trouble raising any funds independently. 

PwC also suggested HLT be integrated with other assets owned by the Lim Family under Ocean Tankers Pte Ltd and Universal Terminal to leverage the company’s value as its operations are interdependent on these companies. 

Photo credit: Stevepb
Published: 24 June, 2020


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