Head of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company on trial over $1m loan

A two-day trial opened on Thursday, June 5, 2014, for the head of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company Eastern Holdings, Stephen Tay Thian Boon, over a $1 million loan his group made almost ten years ago to another firm, Dorm
A two-day trial opened on Thursday, June 5, 2014, for the head of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company Eastern Holdings, Stephen Tay Thian Boon, over a $1 million loan his group made almost ten years ago to another firm, Dormitory Investments. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A two-day trial opened on Thursday for the head of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company Eastern Holdings, over a $1 million loan his group made almost ten years ago to another firm, Dormitory Investments.

Chairman and managing director Stephen Tay Thian Boon, 56, has been charged with pocketing $400,000 of the sum and allegedly failing to declare this to the Eastern Holdings board in March 2006. He is also accused of cheating the group's financial controller into co-signing two cheques to disburse the $1 million in Jan 2005, by hiding his interest in it.

A district court heard that in 2005, Tay had been approached by personal friend Granner Lim Kian Boo, who previously ran a printing business that dealt with Eastern Holdings.

Mr Lim sought $600,000 from Tay on behalf of the bosses of Dormitory Investments. This was the balance required to complete a $12 million deal for a foreign worker dormitory along 39 Kaki Bukit.

Tay was interested in helping and wanted $400,000 to "sweeten the deal", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy in his opening statement. But instead of making the loan personally, he got Eastern Holdings to act as the lender. He received his payment after the loan agreement was signed on Jan 13, 2005.

The loan would not have been approved had Tay disclosed this, the DPP said.

Tay is defended by veteran criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan.

If convicted of failing to disclose his interest in the transaction to Eastern Holdings' board of directors, Tay could be jailed up to a year or fined up to $5,000. For cheating and inducing the group's financial controller to co-sign the loan cheques, he could be jailed up to seven years and fined.