Horse owner seeking to develop trade exchange sues software designer over non-delivery

SINGAPORE - A company seeking to pioneer an exchange for buying and selling shares in racehorses is suing a blockchain consultancy and its ex-director for allegedly failing to deliver the software platform for the project.

Horse Syndicate is seeking the return of some $500,000 advanced for the venture to Digital Billions, which was engaged to develop the platform, and former director Joseph Toh.

Mr Toh was also once a director of Horse Syndicate, which he resigned in April (2017).

Digital Billions, a global provider of blockchain business solutions, according to its website, and Mr Toh are separately denying the claims, arguing among other things, that a working prototype had been in place by February.

Mr Toh has been involved in developing technology platforms for trading assets such as as art and football players since 2000, according to defence papers.

The software platform to be created here would host a registry where customers could trade in shares of racehorses in the same way that investors buy and sell shares of companies listed in a stock exchange, according to papers filed in the High Court.

It is understood the move could commoditise the ownership of million-dollar race horses that was previously within the purview only of the well-heeled.

A joint venture company, Horse Syndicate, was set up last year with the entire share capital provided by horse owner Mark Yong, a Singapore-based businessman with investments in Hong Kong.

The alleged agreement was for him or his nominee to own 70 per cent of the company, and 30 per cent to be registered in the name of Digital Billions.

Horse Syndicate paid $524,887 to Digital in 2016 to kick-start the US$500,000 project. The Horse Syndicate Blockchain Project, which Digital presented in October that year, indicated details for the project to be completed in February.

A revision was made to the project scope the following month but this did not affect the completion date and no concerns were raised then, claimed Horse Syndicate.

But on Feb 21, it instructed Digital to cease all work for having failed to provide a functional prototype by their agreed deadline.

Horse Syndicate, represented by lawyer George Pereira, is also seeking a court order to restrain the defendants from using or disclosing to others all information about the software platform, as well as the return of the monies and damages for alleged breaches of contract.

In its defence papers, Digital countered its prototype worked and argued the changes to the project scope in November last year had an impact on the budget and completion date, which it had raised with Horse Syndicate.

Among other things, the defence papers claimed Digital was paid only $461,940 as of September last year and nothing for work done from January onwards. Nevertheless, it continued to work on the project. Digital is currently defended by lawyer Mohammed Shakirin Abdul Rashid.

Mr Toh, through lawyer Clarence Tan, denied the platform was envisioned by Mr Yong as alleged and claimed he taught Mr Yong about blockchain and the solution he was asked to create.

A High Court pre-trial conference is due next month in the on-going case.