No Signboard CEO arrested and on bail amid share buyback probe

No Signboard Holdings chief executive Lim Yong Sim was arrested on "reasonable suspicion" of breaching the Securities and Futures Act, in connection with an abortive share buyback.
No Signboard Holdings chief executive Lim Yong Sim was arrested on "reasonable suspicion" of breaching the Securities and Futures Act, in connection with an abortive share buyback.

The head of Singapore restaurant chain No Signboard Holdings was arrested on "reasonable suspicion" of breaching the Securities and Futures Act.

Chief executive officer Lim Yong Sim was arrested on Tuesday and released on bail, the restaurant known for its signature white pepper crab dish said in a statement yesterday.

Shares of No Signboard receded 2.35 per cent to close at 8.3 cents yesterday.

The suspected breach is in connection with an abortive share buyback, in which shares were purchased at a price above the permitted level and during a blackout period.

Mr Lim has not been charged with any offence, the company said, adding that its business will not be affected and will continue as usual.

No Signboard said on Monday that it was requested by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), the police's white-collar crime unit, to assist in investigations.

Both its CEO and chief financial officer Voon Sze Yin gave statements to the CAD, and Mr Lim's passport was retained.

It was earlier disclosed that Mr Lim had instructed the company's broker, UOB Kay Hian, to submit bids on Jan 31 to buy the firm's own stock at up to 14 cents each under a newly obtained share buyback mandate.

The bid price was more than 5 per cent above the five-day average closing price, so it exceeded the regulatory limit on share buyback prices.

The company has described Mr Lim's instructions to the broker as an "honest mistake".

Its board of directors said No Signboard's operations will continue as usual.

No Signboard, which was established in 1981, was first listed on the Singapore Exchange's Catalist board in November 2017. It recorded a net loss of $573,643 for the three months to Dec 31. It has four outlets in Singapore and also runs its own beer business.

BLOOMBERG, THE BUSINESS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'No Signboard CEO arrested and on bail amid share buyback probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe