Hour Glass co-founder loses bankruptcy appeal

Jannie Chan's debt to SME Care stems from a 2012 personal guarantee she gave.
Jannie Chan's debt to SME Care stems from a 2012 personal guarantee she gave.

Jannie Chan Siew Lee, co-founder of mainboard-listed luxury timepieces retailer The Hour Glass, had her appeal against a bankruptcy order dismissed by the High Court yesterday.

As a result, she will not be able to put the bankruptcy order on hold.

Arguing in person, the 74-year-old failed to persuade Judicial Commissioner Dedar Singh Gill to overturn the assistant registrar's decision on May 27 to grant licensed moneylender SME Care's petition to make her a bankrupt over $4.15 million in overdue debt.

A bankrupt faces disqualification from appointments including as a director, trustee or personal representative, as well as prohibitions such as on overseas travel without prior permission from the official assignee or private trustee administering the bankrupt's affairs while he remains undischarged.

Ms Chan is no longer a director at The Hour Glass, but she told the media recently that she remains an adviser to the company she co-founded with her ex-husband, and she still holds stakes in the luxury retailer.

SME Care gave a loan of $500,000 to Ms Chan's company JASC in July 2012, secured by a mortgage of two shops JASC owned as well as a personal guarantee by Ms Chan.

JASC defaulted on the debt repayment, despite the interest rate having been subsequently reduced from 7 per cent to 5.2 per cent per month.

The mortgaged properties were sold but the proceeds were not sufficient to discharge the debt.

Ms Chan, being the guarantor, was asked to make good the amount owed, which had ballooned to $3.69 million by September 2017. The debt in question now stands at more than $4.15 million.

SME Care is represented by Mr Muralli Rajaram and Mr Gabriel Peters of K&L Gates Straits Law in the bankruptcy application.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2019, with the headline 'Hour Glass co-founder loses bankruptcy appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe