SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - The Singapore High Court has appointed Grant Thornton Singapore as the supervisor of Xihe Holdings and four of its subsidiaries, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday (Aug 13).
The court decision followed an application by OCBC Bank to place Xihe Holdings and the subsidiaries under the business adviser's supervision.
Mr Lim Oon Kuin, also known as O.K. Lim, with his son Evan Lim Chee Meng and daughter Lim Huey Ching, owns 77 companies under the Xihe Group, which consists mainly of Xihe Holdings and Xihe Capital. Xihe Group owns 136 ships ranging from coastal barges to very large crude carriers.
The subsidiaries involved are Da Xin Tankers, Hua Guang Shipping, Nan King Maritime and Hua Xin Shipping, and these units together own five ships.
Xihe Holdings is part of the Lim family business empire, which also includes troubled oil trader Hin Leong Trading and fleet manager Ocean Tankers, both of which were placed under court-appointed supervisors earlier this year. Hin Leong owed about US$3.6 billion (S$4.9 billion) to 23 banks. The oil trader's founder, Mr Lim Oon Kuin, admitted that he had directed the firm to hide about US$800 million in futures trading losses.
Xihe Holdings, OCBC and Grant Thornton did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The source declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
According to court documents seen earlier by The Straits Times, OCBC said it "strongly distrusts (Xihe Holdings') current management" after US$208.1 million was transferred by the Xihe group to Hin Leong "for no valid commercial purpose".
OCBC had said that "bareboat charters of OCBC-financed vessels were terminated without OCBC's consent, and the Xihe units have persistently failed to... collect payments from Ocean Tankers for months or years, to the prejudice of creditors of the Xihe group, and in breach of contractual obligations owed to OCBC".
With additional information from The Straits Times