Corporate leader's mounting problems

Cordlife Group's board has backed Dr Goh Jin Hian, its chairman and independent director, saying that the firm "has benefited from his strong guidance and leadership in his years of service".
Cordlife Group's board has backed Dr Goh Jin Hian, its chairman and independent director, saying that the firm "has benefited from his strong guidance and leadership in his years of service".PHOTO: CORDLIFE

Business and legal issues dogging corporate leader Goh Jin Hian are mounting, the latest being a lawsuit brought by the judicial managers of a marine fuels supplier over US$156 million (S$212.6 million) in losses resulting from his alleged breach of director's duties.

The judicial managers of insolvent Inter-Pacific Petroleum (IPP) have sued Dr Goh, the company's former director, in a suit filed late last Friday night in Singapore's High Court by LVM Law Chambers, which represents Deloitte & Touche, IPP's judicial managers.

Last week, mainboard-listed healthcare provider New Silkroutes Group disclosed that Dr Goh, its executive director and then chief executive, and finance director William Teo were assisting the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) with investigations. Both men's passports have been retained by CAD. However, neither has been arrested nor charged.

The firm was responding to Singapore Exchange (SGX) queries regarding the CAD probe into a possible offence under the Securities and Futures Act. New Silkroutes said it understands that the alleged offence is false trading and market rigging in view of past share buy-backs and stock acquisitions.

The firm's board maintains that the two men are suitable to continue in their roles as no charges have been made against them.

Dr Goh stepped down as New Silkroutes CEO last Thursday and has taken on the role of non-executive chairman. The firm has appointed Dr VicPearly Wong as CEO.

Similarly, mainboard-listed Cordlife Group's board has backed Dr Goh, its chairman and independent director. The board - with Dr Goh abstaining - said last Friday that his assisting CAD with its New Silkroutes probe "does not compromise his ability to fulfil his duty as chairman and independent director (of Cordlife), and the board is supportive of his continued service".

That prompted an SGX query yesterday on how Cordlife's board assessed the suitability of Dr Goh remaining as chair and independent director. The regulator noted that listing rules require a firm to consider the character and integrity of directors and management.

The Cordlife board noted Dr Goh "has always displayed a high level of professionalism, integrity and strong leadership in his conduct during board discussions and meetings" and that the firm "has benefited from his strong guidance and leadership in his years of service".

 

It added that it "had formed the view that there is nothing at this juncture to indicate that Dr Goh's ability to oversee and manage the affairs of the company" would be compromised as a result of the ongoing CAD probe. "It would be in the best interests of the company for him to presently continue with his roles and responsibilities," it said.


Grace Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2020, with the headline 'Corporate leader's mounting problems'. Subscribe