SSC files bankruptcy petition against ex-head Freddie Koh

To date, Mr Koh owes a total of $1.85 million to the Singapore Swimming Club, including interest.
To date, Mr Koh owes a total of $1.85 million to the Singapore Swimming Club, including interest.

The Singapore Swimming Club (SSC) has filed a creditor's bankruptcy application against its former president Freddie Koh Sin Chong, 70, who had used club funds to defend a defamation suit.

To date, he owes a total of $1.85 million to the club, including interest. But this sum excludes the costs of the trial and appeal, which are yet to be assessed. He has offered to pay $180,000, which the club has rejected. The hearing of the petition is on Aug 4.

Mr Koh owed $1.52 million to SSC after the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision last year, which rejected the club's bid to recover the money utilised by him in his unsuccessful defence of a 2009 defamation suit.

The apex court ruled that the club was entitled to a refund on grounds that it had paid Mr Koh's legal bills under a mistaken belief he was properly discharging his duties to SSC, among other things.

Mr Koh, who became club president in May 2008, was ousted at an extraordinary general meeting in March 2012.

Shortly after Mr Koh was sued for defamation, the management committee headed by him passed a resolution stating that SSC will assume liability for legal actions brought against office bearers as a result of them discharging their duties to the club. Following this resolution, the club bore Mr Koh's legal costs. In 2011, Mr Koh lost the defamation suit. After the ruling, SSC continued to pay his legal bills.

In March 2012, club members voted to remove Mr Koh, to recover the legal costs paid for him and to stop further payment. He then sued the club, arguing that it has to indemnify him for the costs.

The club counter-sued him for the return of the money.

The High Court dismissed both claims in 2014. The club appealed.

Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng and Ms Chang Man Phing of WongPartnership acted for SSC while Mr Paul Seah of Tan Kok Quan Partnership represented Mr Koh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2016, with the headline 'SSC files bankruptcy petition against ex-head Freddie Koh'. Print Edition | Subscribe