Ipco fires CFO, names his replacement

Mr Carlson Smith's passport has been impounded by the Commercial Affairs Department here since 2014.
Mr Carlson Smith's passport has been impounded by the Commercial Affairs Department here since 2014.ST FILE PHOTO

Prolonged absence from office, no visits to overseas subsidiaries among reasons cited

Building firm Ipco International has dismissed its executive director and chief financial officer on several grounds of misconduct.

The move to axe Mr Carlson Smith came after new investor James Blythman demanded that he go during an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Jan 19.

Ipco told the Singapore Exchange yesterday that Mr Blythman, 33, has replaced Mr Smith, 63, as the new chief financial officer.

Mr Blythman, an Australian, became a 14.24 per cent shareholder in September last year, after pumping in $1.58 million through a placement at 0.18 cent per share.

He also succeeded in appointing two new independent directors at the EGM, replacing two who left last year.

Ipco said it fired Mr Carlson Smith due to his continued absence from the office, and also because he did not conduct on-site visits of the group's subsidiaries in China and the United States, where he was the key officer over the past four years.

In an SGX filing on Thursday, Ipco said it fired Mr Smith due to his continued absence from the office, and also because he did not conduct on-site visits of the group's subsidiaries in China and the United States, where he was the key officer over the past four years.

Ipco's US subsidiary is known as Capri Investments.

As a former board member, Mr Smith had failed to inform shareholders that his passport has been impounded by the Commercial Affairs Department here since 2014.

"This affected Mr Smith's ability to discharge his duties... for the company's overseas operations, especially as sole manager of Capri Investments," it said.

Last month, it was reported that Mr Smith had his passport impounded in relation to the 2013 penny stock crash.

However, he has not been called in for questioning regarding this in more than three years, he said.

Meanwhile, former Ipco chief executive Quah Su Ling and interim CEO Goh Hin Calm have been charged but are out on bail of $4 million and $750,000 respectively.

The alleged mastermind of the stock crash, John Soh Chee Wen, failed in a second bid for bail after a High Court judge ruled on Feb 27 that he remains a "flight risk".

Mr Smith said yesterday that Ipco's allegations are "substantially the same" as the ones mentioned at the EGM last month and that none of them were raised with him until he "objected to the abnormal procedure for appointing the two new independent directors".

Mr Smith added that he was not allowed to interview these candidates proposed by Mr Blythman.

Ipco shares last traded at 0.3 cent on Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'Ipco fires CFO, names his replacement'. Print Edition | Subscribe