Shipping Magnate O.K. Lim Faces Second Forgery Charge

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Published Sep 28, 2020 12:36 AM by The Maritime Executive

Singaporean oil and shipping magnate Lim Oon Kuin (also known as O.K. Lim) faces a second charge of abetment of forgery in connection with an allegedly fraudulent loan application.

According to prosecutors, Lim asked an executive at his firm Hin Leong Trading to forge an email to client China Aviation Oil (Singapore). The email depicted a sale that allegedly did not occur, and it was "submitted to a financial institution to secure more than $56 million in trade financing," prosecutors asserted. 

It is the second charge in connection with the same alleged offense. In a previous filing, prosecutors charged OK Lim with instructing a contracts executive to falsify a document on the letterhead of UT Singapore Services, a tank farm operator on Jurong Island. The document showed a transfer of about one million barrels of gasoil to China Aviation Oil (Singapore) in mid-March. Along with the falsified email described above, this document was then submitted to a financial institution as part of an allegedly fraudulent loan application.

If convicted, Lim could face a fine and a prison term of up to 10 years for each charge. 

The charge is the latest in a string of serious setbacks for the Lim family and its businesses, which have entered into bankruptcy proceedings and court administration. The court-appointed manager for Hin Leong Trading, PricewaterhouseCoopers, is suing Lim and members of his immediate family to recover a total of about $3.5 billion in losses that they allegedly caused through "the manipulation of Hin Leong's accounts through irregular accounting entries" and other fraudulent practices. The suit contends that O.K. Lim, his daughter Huey Ching and his son Chee Meng deliberately hid trading losses and made the firm look profitable long after it had passed into insolvency. Their methods allegedly included overstating the firm's inventory and accumulating more debt by deceiving lenders. 

Lim confirmed the losses in a court filing in April, saying that he was responsible for the firm'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. 

Ernst & Young, the judicial manager for the Lim-controlled shipowning firm Ocean Tankers, alleges that the company firm transferred $19 million to the Lim family's personal bank accounts shortly before the company applied to the courts for debt relief. E&Y has filed a civil suit in an attempt to recover the funds.