Architect Albert Hong clarifies court case he is involved in

Architect Albert Hong has clarified that a court case in which he is involved relates to an investment managed by others.

Reacting to a Straits Times report yesterday headlined "Architect avoids bankruptcy with bank guarantee", Dr Hong said that he wanted to put the case in perspective.

In October, the High Court issued an oral judgment in favour of American investment firm AAHG, and ordered Dr Hong to pay $2.5 million plus $160,000 costs and accrued interest.

Dr Hong, 81, yesterday said that the judgment sum related to an investment in a business that was managed by others.

He had little knowledge of the matters in the claim, and the High Court had also allowed his representative to give defence on his behalf.

Dr Hong has put up a banker’s guarantee to show he is more than able to satisfy any judgment.

Dr Hong has since appealed the decision in the case. But he noted: "Even pending the appeal, the plaintiffs brought bankruptcy proceedings to compel payment."

Last month, AAHG applied to have him declared bankrupt after he refused to make payment pending the appeal.

It is understood that Dr Hong has concerns about making payment before his appeal is heard, as he felt it would be difficult to recover the monies if he won his appeal.

On Thursday, he agreed to put up a banker's guarantee.

This was to show that he is more than able to satisfy any judgment - if the judgment is upheld - pending the appeal.

Following the banker's guarantee, a hearing on AAHG's bankruptcy proceedings, scheduled for Thursday, was then adjourned to Dec 29.

The case centres on 10,000 shares of Universal Medical, a holding firm for a hospital in Medan.

AAHG claims to be the owner of the shares, which were valued at about $2.5 million, after acquiring a beneficial interest in them from the liquidation trust of a firm that had gone bankrupt.

In the judgment on this case, the High Court noted that Dr Hong had "little personal knowledge of the matters in this claim as he had left it to his brother (Edward) to manage these matters on his behalf".

Mr Edward Hong had also given evidence on his behalf.

Dr Hong is the chairman of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, which was acquired in 2013 by tycoon Peter Lim's firm Rowsley.

He was president of the Singapore Institute of Architects from 1973 to 1976 and served as a Housing Board director.

He received the Public Service Star award twice, as well as the Panglima Negara Bintang Sarawak from Malaysia and an MBE from Britain.

He was named Singapore businessman of the year in 1994.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'Architect Albert Hong clarifies court case he is involved in'. Print Edition | Subscribe