SINGAPORE - Dr Goh Jin Hian has stepped down as chairman of mainboard-listed Cordlife Group after news broke that he is being sued by the judicial managers of a failed marine fuels supplier over US$156 million (S$212.6 million) in losses due to alleged breach of director's duties.
"In view of the above, in order to devote more time to his personal affairs, Dr Goh will be stepping down as chairman of the board with immediate effect, but will continue to serve as ID (independent director) of the company," Cordlife announced in a filing with the Singapore Exchange just before midnight on Monday (Oct 5).
Vice-chairman and independent director Ho Choon Hou has been appointed acting chairman with immediate effect, it added.
On Monday, The Straits Times reported a suit against Dr Goh, who is the son of former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, was filed last Friday night (Oct 2) in Singapore's High Court for Deloitte & Touche, the judicial managers of Inter-Pacific Petroleum.
Dr Goh has also had his passport retained as a result of an unrelated probe by the Singapore Police's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) into a possible offence under the Securities and Futures Act involving New Silkroutes Group, of which he retired last week as chief executive but remains as non-executive chairman.
In its Monday night announcement, Cordlife said its nominating committee (NC) and board had "just been made aware" of the suit being filed.
It also said that its NC and board - with Dr Goh abstaining - believe that he "has the character and integrity suitable to continue as ID of the company", and that it is in the best interests of the company that he does so "given his qualifications, expertise and experience".
It added that: "At this juncture, the cessation of Dr Goh's role as chairman will allow Dr Goh to continue ensuring that sufficient time and attention is given to the affairs the company as ID".
Dr Goh's exit as chairman came on the same day that Cordlife's NC and board had earlier reiterated its support for him as chairman and ID in response to an SGX query on his suitability, given listing rules requiring a company to, among others, consider the character and integrity of directors and management.
But not satisfied with Cordlife's response on Monday morning, SGX again queried the company, Cordlife's Monday night filing disclosed, with the regulator stating that the board and NC had not provided its opinion on Dr Goh's suitability as well as the bases for it.
In response, Cordlife said it had fully disclosed such, it being that, based on the information available to the company then, the NC and board believed Dr Goh had character and integrity suitable to continue as chairman and ID and that it was in the best interests of the company for him to do so.