Architect Albert Hong loses appeal over investment case

Dr Albert Hong was president of the Singapore Institute of Architects from 1973 to 1976.
Dr Albert Hong was president of the Singapore Institute of Architects from 1973 to 1976.

Singapore architect Albert Hong has lost a High Court appeal over a judgment relating to the ownership of an investment.

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

Dr Hong, 81, appealed the decision. He said that the judgment sum related to an investment in a business managed by others. He also claimed to have had little knowledge of the matters in the claim.

In November last year, AAHG, which was represented by Mr Siraj Omar of Premier Law, applied to have him declared bankrupt after he refused to make payment pending the appeal.

"Even pending the appeal, the plaintiffs brought bankruptcy proceedings to compel payment," he said.

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

After his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal yesterday, a spokesman for Morgan Lewis Stamford, Dr Hong's law firm, told The Straits Times: "The investment was managed by others, and not by Albert Hong.

"In accordance with his legal right, he appealed the decision. While the decision of the Court of Appeal was not what he had hoped for, he accepts the decision of the Court of Appeal and is glad that this process has concluded."

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

AAHG said it was the owner of the shares - valued at about $2.5 million - after acquiring a beneficial interest in them from the liquidation trust of a firm that had gone bankrupt.

Justice Chua Lee Ming agreed, finding that Dr Hong had on Dec 14, 2007 "wrongfully and unlawfully converted, transferred, and/or procured the transfer of 10,000 shares in Universal Medicare... to himself".

The High Court, in the judgment, also 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 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Architect loses appeal over investment case'. Print Edition | Subscribe