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Singapore: O.W. Bunker A/S stakeholders take Deloitte & Touche LLP to court over alleged negligence

03 Jun 2020

A pre-trial conference (PTC) between stakeholders of the defunct bunkering firm O.W. Bunker A/S (currently in insolvency proceedings) and professional services company Deloitte & Touche LLP is scheduled to take place at the High Court of the Republic of Singapore on Thursday (4 June).

The plaintiffs are claiming against Deloitte & Touche for damages over “breach(es) of their contractual obligation(s) and/or dut(ies) in their audit of the financial statements of Dynamic Oil Trading (Singapore) Pte Ltd (now in creditors’ voluntary liquidation and receivership), thereby resulting in the Plaintiffs suffering loss and damage,” according to a document obtained by Manifold Times from the court.

The claim for damages is filed under section 15 of the Civil Law Act. In summary, the section states “any person liable in respect of any damage suffered by another person may recover contribution from any other person liable in respect of the same damage (whether jointly with him or otherwise),” according to Singapore Statutes Online, the Legislation Division of the Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The plaintiffs, in their respective capacities before the collapse of O.W. Bunker A/S in November 2014, are:

  • Jane Dahl Christensen
    Executive Vice President at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • The late Jim Bøjesen Hessellund Pedersen (represented)
    Chief Executive officer at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Kurt Kokhauge Larsen
    Member of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Morten Skou
    Head of Strategic Development at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Niels Henrik Jensen
    Chairman of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Tom Sten Behrens-Sørensen
    Member of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Søren Dan Johansen
    Partner of Altor Equity Partners, Denmark
    Member of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Haakan Petter Samlin
    Partner of Altor Equity Partners, Sweden
    Member of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Jakob Brogaard
    Member of the Board at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Götz Dieter Lehsten
    Executive Vice President at O.W. Bunker A/S
  • Kent Larsen
    Chief Financial Officer at O.W. Bunker A/S

PTCs are largely private affairs held between legal representatives of parties; with media attendance usually restricted.

“At PTCs, the Registrar will usually seek an update on the status of an action,” according to information from the Singapore Supreme Court website.

“Directions will then be given for the parties to progress the action in an expeditious and fair manner e.g the filing of interlocutory applications and the timelines therein.

“An action may go through several PTCs. Parties who reach a settlement at a PTC may record the settlement before the Registrar. Otherwise, trial dates will be given for matters that cannot be settled.”

In November 2018, Deloitte & Touche was the subject of investigations led by the Danish Business Authority, also known as the Erhvervsstyrelsen, regarding “significant deficiencies in the work performed” in the auditor’s statements of the O.W. Bunker group.

The auditor disagreed with the Erhvervsstyrelsen’s criticism, and said the business authority had “a lack of understanding of both accounting principles and business standards for the type of companies represented by O.W. Bunker.”

Lars Moller, the former CEO of O.W. Bunker subsidiary firm Dynamic Oil Trading (Singapore) Pte Ltd, was found by the Court of Aalborg in Denmark to be guilty of several criminal codes on May 2018 and sentenced to a prison term of one year and six months.

The jail term was later increased to five years due to mandatory fraud of “a particularly serious nature” after a failed appeal by Moller, according to a statement from The High Court of Denmark, also known as Højesteret.

Related: Danish Business Authority finds fault with OW Bunker auditors
Related: O.W. Bunker verdict: Prison sentence for Lars Moller
Related: OW Bunker: High Court explains reviewed judgement of Lars Moller

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 3 June, 2020

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