The court managers (JM) of the insolvent Hin Leong Trading have won a legal victory in the High Court to freeze the assets of the Lim family around the world in their attempt to recover $ 3.5 billion (4.66 billion of dollars) of collapsed oil trader’s debt.
The Mareva injunction application, filed by court managers-turned-liquidators Goh Thien Phong and Chan Kheng Tek of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), covers the assets of the Lim family, from real estate in Singapore and Australia to club memberships, insurance policies, stocks, cash and investments.
In an email viewed by The Sunday Times (ST), Mr Goh told creditors of Hin Leong Trading that the High Court issued an oral judgment on Friday, granting the Lim family’s claim to freeze assets in worldwide, up to a value of US $ 3.5 billion.
This follows the court’s decision to reserve judgment after a full-day chamber hearing on April 5.
The injunction means the Lim family will not be able to dispose or manage their assets up to US $ 3.5 billion, except for exceptions such as living expenses and legal fees.
They must also disclose all of their assets worldwide to liquidators, ST understands.
Last August, PwC, represented by senior lawyer Cavinder Bull of Drew & Napier, filed a lawsuit to force Hin Leong founder Lim Oon Kuin, better known as OK Lim, as well as his son Evan Lim Chee Meng and his daughter Lim Huey Ching, to repay the $ 3.5 billion in debt and $ 90 million in dividends they would have paid themselves even if their company were insolvent.
PwC alleged that it breached its fiduciary duties as directors and engaged in fraudulent transactions. On April 30, Singapore prosecutors indicted Elder Lim with 23 counts of counterfeiting-related offenses.
The injunction request was made to ensure that there is enough proceeds for the liquidators to argue against, if they win the case.
“Our lawyers will be taking the next steps in the coming days, including requiring the Lim family to disclose their assets by affidavit,” Goh said in his email Friday. “We are also aware that the Lim family can appeal,” he added. ST has emailed his lawyers at Davinder Singh Chambers for comment.
An appeal does not stay the asset freeze order unless the court allows it, sources familiar with the matter told ST.
Over the past few months, there have been a number of multi-million dollar asset sales. These include the family’s 41% stake in Universal Terminal, one of their largest oil and marine assets. The stake was sold in March to the operator Jurong Port.
The two sides declined to reveal details of the deal, including the price, but market sources put it at between $ 400 million and $ 500 million.
A third of the roughly 150 ships belonging to the family’s Xihe Group have been sold for at least US $ 420 million, Reuters said, citing VesselsValue, which tracks ship sales.
The family told ST in March that their advisers previously informed the JMs and the informal lender steering committee that the proceeds from any sale of their clients’ assets would go into special purpose vehicles (SPVs) which the board has said. independent directors. SPVs are separate legal entities created for a limited business purpose.
The asset freeze order is also a step forward for creditors, including HSBC, Hin Leong’s largest creditor with around $ 600 million to pay. It is among more than 20 banks trying to claw back billions of dollars in trader loans after Hin Leong collapsed last year following a drop in oil prices that triggered a default that exposed years of hidden losses and so-called fraud.
The company was dissolved in March of this year.