Novena Global Healthcare Group

Nelson Loh said to have left Singapore as police probe firm

His cousin Terence says he feels 'deeply betrayed' even as business seems to thrive

Mr Nelson Loh (left) co-founded Novena Global Healthcare with his cousin Mr Terence Loh.
Mr Nelson Loh (left) co-founded Novena Global Healthcare with his cousin Mr Terence Loh.PHOTOS: ST FILE, COURTESY OF TERENCE LOH
In a statement yesterday, Mr Terence Loh (left), said his cousin Nelson Loh (above) "appears to have no intention to sort out this terrible mess we are left with". PHOTOS: TERENCE LOH, ONG WEE JIN
In a statement yesterday, Mr Terence Loh, said his cousin Nelson Loh (above) "appears to have no intention to sort out this terrible mess we are left with". PHOTOS: TERENCE LOH, ONG WEE JIN

Mr Nelson Loh, 40, co-founder of Novena Global Healthcare Group (NGHG) which is under police investigations, has left Singapore, said his cousin and former business partner Terence Loh.

This came in a statement yesterday from Mr Terence Loh, 43, in response to an application by DBS Bank to wind up NGHG subsidiary Novena Global Healthcare.

"Perhaps more than anyone else, I feel deeply betrayed by Nelson, who has left Singapore and appears to have no intention to sort out this terrible mess we are left with."

The Straits Times understands from sources that Mr Nelson Loh is in China.

The Singapore Police Force said it is unable to confirm whether Mr Nelson Loh has left the country, while the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said it cannot discuss the details of individual cases for reasons of confidentiality.

On Tuesday, DBS had applied to the High Court to wind up Novena Global Healthcare, which is believed to owe the bank millions of dollars. The application will be heard on Dec 11 and the subsidiary faces possible liquidation if the court agrees.

The Singapore subsidiary of the Cayman Islands-incorporated group also faces further enforcement action from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority for failing to file its annual returns, due on June 29, 2018.

In a letter sent to over 30 shareholders yesterday, Mr Terence Loh said he has been assisting the Commercial Affairs Department on the alleged forgery of certain NGHG documents. He wrote: "To update stakeholders, these investigations have also included the flow of money from the loans, and the business activities of various entities of NGHG and related parties."

But he said he "firmly believes" the potential liquidation of the Singapore subsidiary, which operates six aesthetic clinics in Singapore, "may not necessarily result in the demise" of the parent company.

Accounting and consulting firm RSM has been appointed by the supervisory committee of NGHG to act as its special accountant.

Mr Terence Loh said: "I will continue to engage with RSM until any liquidation occurs and will assist any appointed liquidators to recover value."

He also said that after Mr Nelson Loh left Singapore, he had called for the first of several meetings on Sept 29 to discuss with the five banks which have extended loans to NGHG. These banking relationships began only less than a year ago, he added.

ST understands from sources that the other banks are Citibank, United Overseas Bank, Maybank and Standard Chartered Bank.

Mr Terence Loh also told shareholders that he has been "salvaging the business in Taiwan and increasing sales at the Novu level".

There are six Novu aesthetic clinics - formerly known as PPP Laser - in Singapore, which are run by the group. When ST visited two of the outlets - at Raffles City and Bedok Mall - yesterday afternoon, they were busy with customers.

One customer from China, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lena, said she had been getting laser treatments at the clinic "since PPP days". Just last week, she spent about $1,000 on a new package for 22 laser treatments at the Raffles City outlet.

The 40-year-old, who works in the information technology sector, said she was shocked to learn that the company could face possible liquidation. She said: "I was planning to get a treatment next week, but the clinic is already fully booked. Maybe I should try to book a slot at other outlets and try to use up my package soon."

A member of the staff at the Bedok Mall outlet told ST that Mr Terence Loh had informed them via e-mail yesterday morning about the possible liquidation of the subsidiary and assured the staff that business would carry on.

The person, who asked not to be named, said: "Even though there has been a lot of negative news about the company lately, business continues to be good.

"All the staff are paid on time. Some customers have asked if we will shut down, but when we told them no, they continue to visit us to buy new packages.

"I think most people are not too worried, because our packages are affordable at just over $1,000, not $10,000."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'Nelson Loh said to have left S'pore as police probe firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe