The court-appointed manager of Singapore Ocean Tankers (Pte.) Ltd is seeking to reclaim about $19 million from the Lim family directors of the firm, who allegedly transferred the funds from the shipping company to their accounts in April, court documents show.
The interim judicial managers from EY said the Lim family “breached their fiduciary duties” by transferring the funds when Ocean Tankers was insolvent.
Ocean Tankers, owned by Oon Kuin Lim, founder of embattled oil firm Hin Leong Trading Pte Ltd, and his daughter Lim Huey Ching, was placed under interim judicial management on May 12.
The EY managers said in a statement of claim filed in the Singapore High Court that the family had failed to ensure that the firm’s assets were not dissipated or exploited for their own benefit to the prejudice of the interests of the firm’s creditors.
It alleged that O.K. Lim had instructed Ocean Tankers to transfer the funds in two transactions to himself, his daughter and son Lim Chee Meng, a director at the company, saying they were partial repayments of a shareholder’s loan.
EY and its lawyer in this case, the Lim family’s lawyer and Lim Chee Meng did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.
Ocean Tankers filed for a debt moratorium on April 17 and then judicial management in early May.
Under judicial management, a court appoints independent managers to run the affairs of a financially distressed company in place of existing management, a move that is often looked upon favourably by creditors.
Founded in 1978, Ocean Tankers manages and operates a fleet of nearly 150 vessels ranging from coastal barges to very large crude carriers, which are mostly owned by the Lim family, according to court documents and the company’s website.
O.K. Lim was charged in Singapore court last Friday with abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating.
Hin Leong, one of Asia’s largest oil traders, was placed under the supervision of a court-appointed manager in April.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan, additional reporting by Anshuman Daga: Editing by Florence Tan and Neil Fullick)