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Hin Leong founder not in court to be tendered 23 new charges

Hin Leong founder not in court to be tendered 23 new charges

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 09 Apr 2021
Author: Grace Leong

Lim Oon Kuin is required to be present for the next State Courts mention on April 29 for the 23 charges to be tendered.

Hin Leong Trading founder Lim Oon Kuin was not present in court yesterday to be tendered 23 new charges of forgery-related offences as he is on a five-day stay-home notice.

But the 78-year-old former oil tycoon - better known as O.K. Lim - is required to be present for the next State Courts mention on April 29 for the 23 charges to be tendered. His $3 million court bail was extended yesterday.

Hin Leong collapsed last year after the oil price plunge triggered a default that exposed years of hidden losses and alleged fraud by the Lim family.

Shipping arm Ocean Tankers filed for judicial management last May, and in August, the court approved OCBC Bank's application against Lim family-owned Xihe Holdings and its subsidiaries.

Hin Leong was wound up last month.

The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) has served Lim with 13 of the 23 charges, with the remaining 10 due to have been served between Monday and Wednesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Naidu said yesterday.

"But we were told he saw a doctor on Saturday... and is on a five-day stay-home notice until today (April 8)," he said.

The DPP asked for a two-week adjournment for the CAD to complete recording Lim's remaining cautioned statements. These refer to statements made by the defendant in his defence at the time charges are presented to him. He also asked for Lim to be physically present for subsequent court mentions.

But Lim's defence lawyer, Mr Navin Thevar of Davinder Singh Chambers, asked for Lim's attendance to be dispensed with until the State Courts require him to attend court.

"For mention hearings, legally represented persons need not attend if their lawyer is already present, unless there are charges to be read to him."

He also cited concerns that his client, who has "longstanding respiratory problems", may be denied entry to the State Courts again as he had been barred from entering for a previous hearing on Sept 25.

District Judge Terence Tay said: "If he has to come to court, he has to come to court."

He ruled that Lim's attendance is "dispensed with unless fresh charges are served on him by the investigation officer (IO), and or otherwise requested by the IO due to applications made by the prosecution that will require his presence".

"If he has no reason to be present, you can apply on ICMS (Integrated Case Management System) for his attendance to be dispensed with as well," he added.

In August and September last year, Lim was hit with two counts of abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating.

He is accused of instigating a Hin Leong employee to forge an e-mail and another document in order to obtain more than US$56 million (S$75 million) in trade financing, according to the police.

Meanwhile, the Singapore High Court has reserved judgment on an application by the judicial managers of insolvent Hin Leong to freeze the Lim family's assets worldwide to recoup US$3.5 billion of debt from the collapsed oil trader.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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