In an unusual sight yesterday, embattled oil tycoon Lim Oon Kuin was charged outside a courtroom for an additional count of abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating.
The 78-year-old founder of Hin Leong Trading – better known as O.K. Lim, – was hit with a second charge. It had to be read to a frail-looking Lim in Mandarin outside the State Courts because he was not allowed into the court due to a respiratory problem. On his way to court earlier, Lim had to be supported by two women, one of whom is a family member.
His $3 million court bail was extended yesterday.
Lim was 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$77 million) in trade financing, the police said yesterday.
In charge sheets filed in the State Courts yesterday, Lim was accused of instigating Mr Freddy Tan Jie Ren, a contracts executive of Hin Leong, to forge an e-mail purportedly sent by Hin Leong to China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corporation on Feb 26 relating to a sale.
Lim is accused of instructing Mr Tan to make the e-mail with the subject header “CAO – Sale of gasoil 10PPM sulphur”.
The e-mail, along with a forged inter-tank transfer certificate mentioned in the first charge brought against Lim last month, was intended to be used to secure more than US$56 million in trade financing, the police said.
The first charge alleged that Lim had instigated Mr Tan to make an inter-tank transfer certificate using the letterhead of UT Singapore Services.
The document stated that Hin Leong transferred 1.05 million barrels of gasoil to China Aviation Oil on March 18.
It was then allegedly used to secure the trade financing, the police said.
Abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Naidu told the court yesterday that it is possible that additional charges could be brought against Lim.
The next mention in court will be on Nov 23 at 3pm.
The two charges follow investigations into Hin Leong by the Commercial Affairs Department, the white-collar crime unit of the police. Investigations continue into other offences allegedly committed by Lim.
Three companies related to the Lim family have already been placed under interim judicial management. They are Hin Leong and its shipping arm Ocean Tankers, and Xihe Holdings, which is owned by Lim and his son, Mr Evan Lim Chee Meng.
Hin Leong and Ocean Tankers had initially sought a six-month moratorium on debts of more than US$3.6 billion to 23 banks, but withdrew this application.
The oil trader’s troubles escalated following a probe by the police and increased scrutiny by several regulators.
This came after the elder Mr Lim said he had instructed the company to hide about US$800 million in losses incurred from futures trading over the years.
Court filings note that Hin Leong sold a substantial part of the inventory it had used as collateral to secure bank loans.