SINGAPORE - After three no-shows in State Courts to face 23 new charges of forgery-related offences, Hin Leong Trading founder Lim Oon Kuin finally showed up on Friday morning (April 30) in a wheelchair.
Lim, who was charged with 12 additional counts of abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating and 11 counts of forgery, initially did not enter the dock - a point noted by the court.
"Is there any reason why the accused is not in the dock?" District Judge Tan Jen Tse asked. Lim was then wheeled into the dock for the charges to be read to him.
The frail-looking 79-year-old former oil tycoon - better known as O.K. Lim - had been deemed unfit to attend court a day earlier by his doctor as he had been diagnosed with acute and chronic sinusitis. The court on Thursday was told Lim required surgery but had not yet had an operation as he has been on blood thinner medication Plavix.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Navin Naidu told the court on Friday that all 23 charges had been read and explained to him, and that the prosecution was not asking for an increase in Lim's bail.
His $3 million court bail was extended on Friday.
The DPP asked for six weeks "for further investigations to finalise charges." The judge set 8am on June 24 for next mention of the case.
The new charges tendered to the State Courts contend that Lim instigated Mr Freddy Tan Jie Ren, a contracts executive of Hin Leong, on several occasions between June 12, 2019, and March 9, 2020, to make an "ITT certificate" - or inter-tank transfer certificate on the letterhead of UT Singapore Services.
According to the new charges, the forged documents stated that various amounts of high sulphur fuel oil and gasoil were allegedly transferred by Hin Leong to China Aviation Oil (CAO) on different occasions.
For instance, one document allegedly stated that Hin Leong transferred 104,965 metric tons of high sulphur fuel oil to CAO on June 12, 2019.
Another document allegedly stated that Hin Leong had, on March 9, 2020, transferred three cargoes of gasoil - 55,494 metric tons, 41,621 metric tons and 41,615 metric tons - to CAO on the same day.
The forged inter-tank transfer certificates, were intended to be used for the purpose of cheating, according to the charges.
Eight other charges allege that Lim conspired with Mr Tan to forge a certificate of quality issued by Amspec Testing Services, which falsely represented that a sample of high sulphur fuel oil had been collected at UT Singapore Services and tested by Amspec on several occasions between June 12, 2019, and Feb 3, 2020.
According to the charges, Mr Tan procured the forged certificates from Mr Mohamed Hidayat Bin Mohd Shariff, a senior business manager of Amspec on those occasions.
Mr Tan also procured falsified certificates from Mr Ramachandran Ravichandran, a senior operations executive of Amspec on two other occasions on Oct 15, 2019, and March 9, 2020.
Abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.
Lim was earlier charged with two counts of abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating in August and September last year.
He is accused of instigating Mr Tan to forge an e-mail and another document in order to obtain more than US$56 million (S$74.3 million) in trade financing.
Hin Leong collapsed last year owing US$3.5 billion after the oil price plunge triggered a debt default that exposed years of hidden losses and alleged fraud by the Lim family.
The firm was wound up last month, after three bidders walked away from a deal to buy Hin Leong and two related companies as a combined entity.