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Singapore: Hin Leong Trading Founder testifies for the first time in his own defence

Lim Oon Kuin spoke in detail about his group of businesses including Ocean Bunkers and Ocean Tankers as well as testified that his former PA was responsible for negotiations with banks for new financing.

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The Singapore State Courts on Monday (30 October) heard Hin Leong Trading (Pte) Ltd Founder Lim Oon Kuin, who is accused of alleged cheating and forgery charges involving USD 111.7 million (SGD 148.7 million), taking the stand for the first time in his own defence.

According to The Business Times, Lim, also known as O.K. Lim, who spoke in Mandarin that his group of businesses which included Hin Leong, Ocean Tankers, Ocean Bunkers, Xihe Holdings and Xihe Capital, operated on a “left pocket, right pocket” model. 

Lim, as quoted, testified: “Sometimes, if one company needs anything, the other will help. If one company needs funds, another company will send the funds over.”

One of Lim’s lawyers Navin Thevar asked Lim for details of each company that was under Lim’s control to which he responded that Hin Leong was in the business of purchasing and selling oil. Hin Leong then set up the other companies. 

Lim said shipping firm Ocean Tankers was set up to manage and rent out ships, while Ocean Bunkers was established to supply bunkers to the ships. Ocean Bunkers was managed by Ocean Tankers.

Xihe Holdings and Xihe Capital were holding companies that owned over 100 tankers, while Universal Group Holdings was the largest oil storage terminal in Singapore, and was used to store different types of oil.

Lim was the managing director of Hin Leong in 1973 until either March or April 2020.

The Straits Times reported Lim also testified that his former personal assistant Serene Seng was responsible for buy and sell negotiations with clients, and negotiations with banks for new financing, among other responsibilities at Hin Leong. 

Lim said there was more work for Seng to be responsible for as Hin Leong’s business grew and there were more interactions with banks. 

Seng was eventually appointed head of contracts and corporate affairs manager “so clients would understand what she does”, according to Lim.

In April, the Singapore State Court heard Seng confess to lying during investigations by Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), when she said she was unable to recall events connected to a transaction that is related to Lim Oon Kuin’s criminal charges.

 The 61-year-old who had worked at Hin Leong Trading for close to 30 years and whose last position was Manager of Corporate Affairs, testified against her former boss, Lim, who faces cheating and forgery charges.

Under cross-examination by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Davinder Singh Chambers, representing Lim, Mrs Seng admitted she had lied to CAD, about not being able to remember the circumstances relating to the transaction in order to protect her children. 

She expressed fear of prosecution which may lead to jail time while her school-going children were still young.

Mrs Seng is also one of four defendants, along with three members of the Lim family, in a lawsuit filed by HSBC against the Lim family and a Hin Leong employee to recover USD 85.3 million of its USD 111.7 million exposure to Hin Leong.

Mrs Seng is also one of four defendants, along with three members of the Lim family, in a lawsuit filed by HSBC against the Lim family and a Hin Leong employee to recover USD 85.3 million exposure to Hin Leong.

An extensive coverage by Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times regarding the fall of Hin Leong can be found below:

Related: Singapore: Hin Leong Trading Founder to testify in USD 111.7 mil cheating, forgery case
Related: Singapore: O.K. Lim, children faces liquidators and HSBC in USD 3.5 bil civil lawsuit
Related: Former PA to Hin Leong Trading Founder found lying in CAD investigations
Related: Singapore: Hin Leong Trading Founder goes to trial for cheating, forgery charges
Related: Hin Leong Trading Founder faces additional 105 cheating, forgery charges in court
Related: Ocean Tankers judicial managers progressing to liquidate firm after expiry of court order
Related: Singapore: Hin Leong Trading Director charged with obstructing course of justice
Related: Court of Appeal: Hin Leong, Lim family claim ‘without any factual or legal basis’
Related: Singapore: High Court dismisses UniCredit Bank USD 37 million claim against Glencore over Hin Leong transaction
Related: Singapore: Hin Leong takes Deloitte to court over alleged auditing failures
Related: Hin Leong Trading Founder OK Lim facing 23 new forgery-related charges at State Courts
Related: Application to wind up Hin Leong Trading subsidiary, Hin Leong Marine approved
Related: Singapore High Court approves Hin Leong Trading wind up order application
Related: Hin Leong Trading liquidates a third of its fleet to recover USD 3.5 billion debt
Related: Lim family aims to wind up Hin Leong Trading subsidiary, Hin Leong Marine
Related: Judicial Managers of Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd file for winding up order
Related: Hin Leong judicial managers to hold meeting of creditors to discuss fees incurred
Related: Lim family files application to wind up Hin Leong Trading subsidiary, Hin Leong Marine
Related: First creditors meeting of Ocean Tankers to be held in early January 2021
Related: Bank of China takes legal action against BP Plc and Lim family to recover $312.9 million
Related: OBS to wind up operations; creditor list alleges estimated USD 42 million debt
Related: Ocean Tankers publishes notice for creditors to prove any debts or claims for publication
Related: Hin Leong Trading founder denies allegations of forgery put forward by HSBC
Related: Singapore: Xihe Holdings and subsidiaries to be placed under judicial management
Related: HSBC takes Lim family and Hin Leong employee to court to recover USD 85.3 million
Related: Da An Shipping Pte Ltd passes winding-up resolution and publishes notice to creditors
Related: Xihe Capital and subsidiaries, Nan Guang Maritime to undergo voluntary liquidation
Related: MPA: Ocean Bunkering Services licenses suspended ‘until further notice’ and not revoked
Related: Ocean Bunkering Services bunker claims against ASL Marine & Offshore heads to arbitration
Related: Ocean Tankers to return most ships to owners to reduce $540,000 a day cash burn
Related: Singapore: Ocean Bunkering Services license suspended until further notice
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Related: Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim hit with second charge of abatement in forgery
Related: Hin Leong judicial managers and legal firms could rack up SGD 17.3 million in fees
Related: Winson Group wins ICC backing in dispute against banks over credit for Hin Leong Trading
Related: O.K. Lim and two children sued for USD 3.5billion; receiver appointed for 3 Xihe ships
Related: Managers of Ocean Tankers looking to recover USD 19 million from Lim family
Related: Argus Media: Singapore’s Hin Leong founder charged with forgery
Related: Xihe Holdings placed under IJM as OCBC reverses decision for ‘consensual restructuring’
Related: Xihe replaces Directors, forms new management team to chart fresh course for Group
Related: Hin Leong Trading lawyers publish application to fulfill requirements for hearing to proceed
Related: Ocean Tankers legal team publishes application to be placed under judicial management
Related: Judicial management applications for Hin Leong Trading and Ocean Tankers delayed
Related: Lim family to inhibit law firm Rajah & Tann from representing troubled HLT & OTPL
Related: OCBC files for Xihe Holdings to be placed under judicial management
Related: Judicial managers of Ocean Tankers discover discrepancies and fraud in exposure claims
Related: Judicial managers of Ocean Tankers to present restructuring proposals to owners
Related: PwC probes uncover mass grave of financial skeletons and alleged fraud within HLT
Related: Winson Group seeks SGD 30.4 million from Standard Chartered over HLT related trade
Related: Winson Group seeks SGD 30.4 million from OCBC over credit pull in Hin Leong trade
Related: Ocean Tankers: Notice to prove debt or claim published by interim judicial managers
Related: ‘Reasonable prospects’ to keep Ocean Tankers as a going concern, states Director
Related: Singapore: Ocean Tankers, a separate entity of Hin Leong, seeking judicial management
Related: Singapore High Court concedes interim judicial management to Hin Leong Trading
Related: Sembcorp commences legal proceedings against Hin Leong Trading over gasoil cargo
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Related: Report: Sinopec expresses interest in Hin Leong Trading stake of Universal Terminal
Related: Report: Hin Leong Trading appoints PwC as interim judicial manager
Related: Singapore’s Police Force commence investigations into Hin Leong Trading
Related: Report: Hin Leong Trading founder gave instructions to hide USD 800 million losses
Related: Singapore: Ocean Bunkering Services to discontinue marine fuel deliveries
Related: Hin Leong in debt restructuring exercise; Ocean Tankers a separate entity, says CEO
Related: Report: Hin Leong Trading finances under scrutiny, amid credit pull from two banks

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 31 October, 2023

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Crime

Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

Vietnam Coast Guard said vessels were transporting various quantities of oil cargo: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

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Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

The Vietnam Coast Guard on Tuesday (20 February) said it seized a total of about 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil in an operation. 

Patrol boats belonging to Coast Guard Region 4 Command detected two fishing boats – KG-91487- DR and KG-91602-TS – displaying several suspicious signs.

Initial investigations found all vessels without invoices and documents proving legal origin of the oil material.

The vessels were transporting various quantities of oil material: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

The authorities made records of administrative violations,and escorted the vessels to Fleet Port 422 in Phú Quốc city, Kiên Giang province for further investigations and handling in accordance with the law.

 

Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Published: 23 February, 2024

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Legal

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

Three men, aged 32 to 40, were suspected to be involved in smuggling the subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712).

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Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (19 February) said it detained a fishing vessel and three local men who were onboard after they allegedly tried to smuggle 6,000 litres of diesel worth MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712) on 18 February. 

In the 11pm incident, the men, aged 32 to 40, onboard the ship were found with the diesel at 0.6 nautical miles north of Pulau Langgun, Langkawi. 

“During the inspection of the boat in question, officers found there was an additional space on the deck and covered with plywood in the intention of hiding it from authorities,” said MMEA. 

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

“Officers then proceeded to dismantle the plywood and found two storage containers that were converted into extra oil barrels.”

“As a result of that discovery, the suspects are suspected to be involved in smuggling subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000.”

MMEA detained the fishing vessel and men before they were brought to Bukit Malut Maritime Jetty for further investigations.

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 20 February, 2024

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Crime

IFC Annual Report 2023: 58 incidents of theft, robbery and piracy at sea in Singapore Strait

IFC recorded 58 incidents of TRAPS in the Singapore Strait, which remains the main area of concern but it noted there was a notable 47% decrease in incidents in the second half of 2023.

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IFC Annual Report 2023: 58 incidents of theft, robbery and piracy at sea in Singapore Strait

The Information Fusion Centre (IFC), a regional Maritime Security centre hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy, on Saturday (17 February) released its annual report and infographic for 2023. 

The report and infographic covers Theft, Robbery and Piracy At Sea (TRAPS), Maritime Incidents and Contraband Smuggling, Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing, Irregular Human Migration, Environmental Security and Cyber Security. 

According to the report, IFC recorded 58 incidents of TRAPS in the Singapore Strait, which remains the main area of concern but it noted there was a notable 47% decrease in incidents in the second half of 2023.

“The 58 incidents recorded in 2023 is higher than 2022 (55) and 2021 (49), and is a continuing trend possibly due to the current slow economic recovery and the rising cost of living, prompting more locals to resort to petty theft,” IFC said in the report. 

Most of the incidents occurred in the Phillip Channel (34 Incidents), mainly Northeast of Karimun Besar Island and Northwest of Kepalajernih Island, where vessels have been known to decrease speed significantly when turning. The other area of concern is waters off Bintan and Batam islands (12 incidents). It is assessed that increased enforcement efforts by regional authorities in the waters off Bintan and Batam islands have caused perpetrators to shift their operations to the Phillip Channel.

Notably, the number of incidents in Singapore Strait fell by 47% in the second half of the year, assessed due to the overall stepped-up enforcement efforts by regional authorities. Particularly, a successful land operation mounted by Indonesian authorities in October led to the arrest of several members of a suspected sea robbery syndicate; following this, there was only 1 incident reported in November and December combined.

According to the report, bulk carriers were the most frequently targeted vessel types in the Singapore Strait, accounting for 69% of the incidents, followed by tugs and barges, and tankers making up 19% and 12% of the incidents respectively. 

“This is due to their slower speed (7 to 12 knots), and lower freeboard (less than 8m). Stolen Items include engine spare parts and small tools (bulk carriers and tankers), and scrap metal (tugs and barges),” IFC added.

Recent investigations by Indonesian authorities have also revealed that perpetrators have become more tech-savvy, making use of commercially available online applications in their handphones to select suitable targets (using AIS information to identify vessel type and speed) to increase chances of success.

IFC said the report and infographic are co-developed by its International Liaison Officers (ILO), with insights and data collected over the past years, covering IFC's 8 MARSEC categories within the IFC Area of Interest (AOI).

Note: Information Fusion Centre’s Annual Report 2023 and infographic can be downloaded here.

 

Photo credit: Information Fusion Centre
Published: 20 February, 2024

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