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Liquidation of OK Lim's Fleet Moves Ahead

hin leong
Tankers moored at Universal Terminals, the most valuable asset in the Lim family's shipping and trading empire (Universal Terminals)

Published Mar 1, 2021 10:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The liquidation of assets held by Singaporean shipowner and oil trader OK Lim (Lim Oon Kuin) is proceeding quickly, with about 50 out of the Lim family's 150 barges and vessels already sold, according to Reuters. 

The vessels are held by Xihe Capital, one of Lim's three primary companies, and court-appointed supervisor Grant Thornton has been selling off the company's VLCCs and oil barges at a rapid pace. 

Lim's business empire collapsed last year amidst allegations of fraud, and he has been charged with abetment of forgery in connection with two loan applications. Singaporean prosecutors contend that he directed an executive at Hin Leong Trading - Lim's oil trading house - to falsify documents in order to obtain tens of millions of dollars in trade financing.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the court-appointed manager for Hin Leong Trading, the Lim family manipulated the firm's books through irregular accounting entries in order to hide trading losses. The methods allegedly included overstating inventory and accumulating more debt by deceiving lenders, the same acts alleged in Singaporean prosecutors' criminal suit. The misstatements made Hin Leong look profitable long after it had passed into insolvency, and the company racked up about $3.5 billion in debt in the process. Creditors are now in control of Hin Leong, Xihe and the Lim-controlled shipping company Ocean Tankers, and liquidation is moving forward. 

Lim confirmed the losses in a court filing in April 2020, saying that he was responsible for Hin Leong's inaccurate financial statements. "In this regard, I had given instructions to the finance department to prepare the accounts without showing the losses and told them that I would be responsible if anything went wrong," Lim said in the filing. 

Jurong Port is set to take the Lim family's 40 percent managing stake in a liquid bulk terminal on Jurong Island, according to Reuters. The Universal Terminal complex was one of Lim's most valuable assets, and its 14 million barrel tank farm and twin berths for VLCCs make it one of the most important components of the liquidation process. Jurong will be a co-owner alongside existing shareholders PetroChina and Macquarie.