Son of Eng Wah founder sues father's estate for $10.6m

Mr Goh Eng Wah (centre) in a picture from July 1994, together with his children (from left) Min Yen, Keng Soon, Keng Beng and Min Lu.
Mr Goh Eng Wah (centre) in a picture from July 1994, together with his children (from left) Min Yen, Keng Soon, Keng Beng and Min Lu.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The third child of the founder of Eng Wah Organization (EWO) has sued his father's estate, claiming that the cinema magnate, who died last year, owes him $10.6 million.

Mr Goh Keng Beng alleges that his father, the late Mr Goh Eng Wah, had agreed to compensate him $15.75 million for the losses he suffered as a result of transactions central to the reverse-takeover of the company in 2008.

In his High Court lawsuit filed in June, Keng Beng says he received $5.15 million between 2008 and 2012 but his father died before the outstanding was paid.

He is relying on a deed of settlement prepared by a lawyer and purportedly signed by his father in September 2008 in which the patriarch agreed to pay him $15.75 million over five years.

The patriarch's other surviving child, younger daughter Min Yen, who is the executrix and trustee of her father's will, is defending the suit as the estate's representative.

Min Yen contends that her brother's allegation of suffering losses is "manifestly false and completely lacks any basis".

She does not accept her brother's version of events, including the authenticity of the deed. And even if her father did sign the deed, she asserts that he had been unduly influenced by Keng Beng to do so.

In court papers filed last month, she points out that their English-illiterate father did not receive any legal advice and would not have been able to understand the deed on his own.

She also notes that their father's alleged signing of the deed was witnessed only by Keng Beng and that her brother had failed to mention it to her until May this year.

Min Yen also contends that her brother's claims are time-barred as the six-year limit under the law has passed. She has countersued Keng Beng for the return of $5.15 million.

The late Mr Goh was a pioneer in the local cinema industry who produced films and screened them in the cinema chain that bore his name. His business empire spans entertainment, properties, hospitality and lifestyle in Singapore and Malaysia.

He died on Sept 5 last year at the age of 92, leaving his wife, two sons and two daughters. His widow, older daughter Min Lu and older son Keng Soon have since died.

Keng Beng's suit stems from the reverse takeover of EWO by biotech firm Transcru, in which EWO was required to dispose of all its assets and liabilities other than cash of at least $10 million.

Keng Beng was a shareholder and director of EWO's parent company, Eng Wah Holdings. He says his father's decision to transfer EWO's assets to new set-up EW.G instead of Eng Wah Holdings caused his shares to drop in value.

Mr Goh and and Min Yen were the only shareholders of EW.G, now known as Eng Wah Global.

But Min Yen says the decision to make an offer through EW.G was to prevent the reverse takeover, which hinged on the disposal of assets, from falling through.

She notes that the decision was made by the board of EWO and approved by minority shareholders; Mr Goh and herself had abstained from voting as they were deemed interested parties.

A pre-trial conference has been scheduled on Dec 29.