Chairman of Nobel Design's audit committee replaced

A firm racked by arguments between shareholders and directors over accounting and governance issues replaced the chairman of its audit committee yesterday.

Dr Teh Ban Lian has stepped down from the role at Nobel Design, an interior design consultancy which also distributes furniture.

He has been replaced by Mr Wong Soon Chiu, who was chairman of the Nobel Design's risk management sub-committee, according to a statement made on the Singapore Exchange.

Dr Teh will take Mr Wong's place as chairman of the risk management sub-committee.

Nobel Design board members came under fire at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Sept 7 when shareholders accused them of accounting mistakes and poor corporate governance.

The meeting had been called to seek shareholder approval for Nobel's 2014 financial statements, which had been revised following the firm's annual general meeting (AGM) in April.

At the AGM, several shareholders grilled the board on aspects of the statements, including a potential breach of an accounting standard.

Shortly after the AGM, Nobel began reviewing its accounts and hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise. Nobel chairman Adrian Chan told the EGM that the revised parts of the statement did not amount to a mistake, but some at the EGM still questioned the competence of the audit committee.

Former chairman Bert Choong also blasted the board for what he deemed to be poor corporate governance. Mr Choong, who owns around 25 per cent of the shares in Nobel, said he would call for further EGMs to move for a vote of no-confidence in the board.

Mr Choong had earlier filed a defamation suit against Nobel's board members after claims that he may have breached his fiduciary duty by not disclosing his son's furniture business in Malaysia.

He told The Straits Times that yesterday's announcement does not affect his decision on whether to call for another EGM.

"There are still two different sets of accounts presented by the board to the shareholder as "true and fair", he said.

"This seems irregular," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2015, with the headline 'Chairman of Nobel Design's audit committee replaced'. Print Edition | Subscribe