In Singapore, a judgment has been made on August 3, 2012, in a case between Chenet Finance Ltd and (Allene) Lim Poh Yen and others. This article can be found on the website of the Singapore Law Watch. The article is 82 pages, and it will be revealing what was all going on in this case. I recommend the reader first to skip to page 78-80, for a description of the people and companies involved.
Shares held on other people's names, a "sham transaction", a valuation that didn't make any sense at all, a former mistress, a bankrupt, a BVI company, and even allegations of physical and verbal abuse and money laundering.
Needless, to say, something was bound to go wrong, and that was exactly what happened. A messy affair, giving the readers a rare opportunity to peek in this world of business.
Berlian’s main business is the operation of the ferry route between HarbourFront Centre in Singapore and Harbour Bay Terminal in Batam (an island of the Republic of Indonesia), over which it enjoys a monopoly.
Each of the defendants alleges that the true beneficial owner of Chenet is Tan Sri Amin Shah ("Amin Shah").
Amin Shah was made a bankrupt in Malaysia by order of court on 9 October 2007.
Chenet gave notice to Berlian that it wished to transfer the Shares to Hopaco for $2.2m (a rather surprising valuation, since the net profit in 2008 was $5.8m, an accountant valued the company in 2011 on $15.8 million).
Sometime in early 2009, Amin Shah decided that Chenet should transfer the Shares to Hopaco, a company owned by Andrew Lee. The idea was that Andrew Lee’s high net worth would be enough to comfort Caterpillar. The initial plan devised in early May 2009 by Amin Shah’s Malaysian lawyer Thanggaya was to have a loan agreement under which Hopaco would purportedly lend $2.2m to Chenet, with the Shares acting as security.
The loan agreement would be backdated to 19 April 2007 and Chenet would then "default" on the loan in 2009, resulting in the transfer of the Shares to Hopaco.
Eranur (Amin Shah's daughter) admitted on the witness stand that it was not meant to be a genuine transfer:
Court: [The transfer to Hopaco] is not supposed to be a true transaction, it was meant to be a sham transaction because Hopaco is not supposed to be the real owner of the shares. It’s just supposed to show to Caterpillar that now one of our shareholders is Hopaco, who has got a high net worth individual, [Andrew Lee].
Abu Bakar accepted that he had once worked as a technician with the Federal Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) for a salary of RM1,000/month.Abu Bakar gave evidence of companies which he had incorporated. The first, Atlantic Range Sdn Bhd, was incorporated in 1991 with a paid up capital of RM1m.
When questioned about where he had got the RM1m from, he answered that the money was from his profits from brokering contracts through his political contacts.