Vibrant fights joint venture partner's claims that unit made illegal advances

SINGAPORE - Logistics player Vibrant Group's partner in a Malaysian property joint venture now wants to wind up the unit over allegations of illegal payment, according to an announcement from the board on Tuesday (Jan 22).

Its wholly owned Singapore Enterprises Pte Ltd got a petition on Jan 18 to wind up Saujana Tiasa Sdn Bhd, the 50-50 joint venture set up in August 2013 with a company called Desa Tiasa Sdn Bhd.

The two companies had teamed up to buy a freehold condominium in Kuala Lumpur.

But Desa Tiasa has now alleged that the $30.9 million in advances made by Singapore Enterprises - for which it stood as guarantor and pledged its joint venture half-share as security - were actually against Malaysian law, the Vibrant board disclosed in its bourse filing.

Mainboard-listed Vibrant had previously said in a March 2014 multi-currency debt issuance memorandum that its non-current receivables had swelled in the nine-month period to Jan 31, 2014, on activities such as a loan to Saujana Tiasa to buy the 24-storey Palas Condominium.

At the time, the property was owned by the joint venture company and leased by Desa Tiasa, according to the debt programme document.

Vibrant's directors have now said that the company takes the view that the allegations in the petition - which was filed in the High Court of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur - "are spurious and unfounded".

"The company will thus take all measures and actions necessary to vigorously resist and refute these baseless claims and allegations," the board added. "The company will seek legal advice, and make further announcements as and when there are material developments in this matter."

Vibrant closed down on Monday by 0.2 cent, or 1.27 per cent, at $0.156.