Singapore developer asks for trading suspension as it deals with queries over Myanmar project

Emerging Towns & Cities Singapore, through a subsidiary, paid US$24.9 million for a 49 per cent stake in the Golden City project. PHOTO: CEDAR

SINGAPORE - Emerging Towns & Cities Singapore (ETC) on Tuesday night (March 2) requested that trading in its shares be suspended while the property developer conducts an independent review of its contracts with Myanmar government ministries and departments.

ETC is among companies being called out by activists over its links to the Myanmar military, which seized power from the country's elected government in a Feb 1 coup.

The Singapore Exchange last week issued a list of queries to the company, which is developing a commercial and residential project in Myanmar called Golden City that is being built on land leased from the Myanmar army. In its report, rights group Justice for Myanmar said Golden City "channels millions of dollars" to the army.

ETC, through a subsidiary, paid US$24.9 million (S$33.14 million) for a 49 per cent stake in the Golden City project. The development has a total tenure of 70 years, including extensions, after which the entire project transfers to the lessor - the army's office of the quartermaster general.

"The board is mindful of the safety of its employees, especially its staff in Myanmar, and is committed to provide more clarity on the unsubstantiated and unverified allegation against the company," ETC said in Tuesday's bourse filing.

Accordingly, ETC said, it intends to engage with an independent professional to review material contractual payments to the Myanmar government and fund-raising proceeds from recent years "in order to provide assurance to all stakeholders regarding the group's dealings".

The company will make the relevant announcement as and when there are any material developments, it said.

ETC also noted that the request for voluntary suspension "should not be taken to imply that there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the company", but is to ensure information which would be important to shareholders is made available to ensure orderly trading in the company's securities.

Trading in shares of the Catalist-listed company were halted on Friday. The stock closed on Thursday at 3.4 cents.

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