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Singapore oil trader Hin Leong's founder charged with forgery

Photo: Reuters ctoklim1408.jpg
Lim Oon Kuin, founder of Singapore’s oil trading giant Hin Leong Trading, was charged in court last Friday with abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating, according to the Singapore Police Force.

Lim’s charge arises from investigations by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) into Hin Leong, relating to Lim instigating a Hin Leong employee to forge a document purportedly issued by UT Singapore Services Pte Ltd.

“The document stated that Hin Leong had transferred more than one million barrels of gasoil to China Aviation Oil (Singapore) Corporation Ltd. The document was allegedly used to secure more than $56m in trade financing from a financial institution,” the police stated on its website.

“Investigations are ongoing into other offences allegedly committed by Lim Oon Kuin,” the police said.

If found guilty, Lim could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

The police had already started investigating Hin Leong in April this year as the company filed for bankruptcy protection amid allegations that billionaire Lim had failed to disclose hundreds of millions in losses over several years.

It was alleged that Lim had directed the company to hide nearly $800m in losses from speculating in oil futures over the years.

Hin Leong is now struggling to repay debts of some $3.85bn, affecting 23 banks including HSBC and ABN Amro.

In May, tanker shipping firm Ocean Tankers, a unit of Hin Leong, applied to be placed under the management of a court-appointed supervisor.

Known to many as OK Lim, the founder of Hin Leong started from humble beginnings by supplying diesel from a fishing boat to other vessels, even using his bicycle when to meet additional demand.

Lim started doing business with mainland China in the 1980s, one of the moves that helped propelled Hin Leong to become a leading name in oil trading.

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