Event organiser fined for contempt

The organiser of two major Hello Kitty events in Singapore, who was found to be in contempt last week for not showing up at two court hearings to disclose his firm's assets, finally appeared in court yesterday.

Jacky Teo Choon Leng was fined $2,000 for contempt of court by High Court judge Belinda Ang. The sanction came amid a civil lawsuit brought by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) against Teo's events company, Mighty Eight, over an unpaid debt of $320,000 to the resort.

Mighty Eight, wholly owned and controlled by Teo, had organised the Hello Kitty Go Around carnival at RWS' Coliseum from Oct 16 to Nov 10 last year. It was also behind the Robot Kitty exhibition at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre in June this year.

RWS sued Mighty Eight for about $320,000 after the firm failed to pay the contracted sums for the use of its premises and compensation for physical damage to the venue. After winning the lawsuit in default - as Mighty Eight did not respond - RWS moved to enforce the judgment by applying for Teo to be questioned on the company assets available to pay the debt.

On July 22, the High Court ordered him to attend a session on Aug 12. He did not turn up and did not pick up calls from RWS' lawyer. The hearing was adjourned to Aug 19. Again, he did not show up, even though a letter informing him of the details was handed to his sister at his registered address.

On Nov 14, RWS took out contempt of court proceedings against Teo, seeking two days' jail and a $40,000 fine. Justice Ang found Teo guilty of contempt but adjourned the case for him to make arguments on sentence.

Yesterday, Teo's lawyer, Mr Goh Teck Wee, told the court his client had moved out of his registered address in July and did not get the documents sent there until Nov 14. Mr Goh argued that Teo was facing imminent bankruptcy and is not able to pay any substantial fine; he should also not be jailed as the breach was just a technical one.

Teo, who took the stand briefly, estimated that he received about $1 million from the first event and between $700,000 and $800,000 from the second. He will be questioned in detail on his firm's accounts at another session. No date has been fixed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline 'Event organiser fined for contempt'. Print Edition | Subscribe