9 properties in Singapore, Australia among Hin Leong's Lim family assets frozen by High Court
The Straits Times - 6/9/2021; Last Update - 6/15/2021

SINGAPORE - Six residential properties in Singapore and three in Australia belonging to the Lim family behind insolvent Hin Leong Trading are among assets frozen by the High Court to recoup US$3.5 billion (S$4.6 billion) of debt from the collapsed oil trader.

Judicial managers turned liquidators Goh Thien Phong and Chan Kheng Tek of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) scored a legal victory in May to freeze the Lim family’s assets worldwide, up to a value of US$3.5 billion.

The High Court order covers assets from real estate in Singapore and Australia to club memberships, insurance policies, shares, cash and investments.

Details of the order filed on June 4 and seen by The Straits Times showed that of the six properties in Singapore, three are good-class bungalows in Bukit Timah and in Tanglin Hill.

Hin Leong founder Lim Oon Kuin, better known as O.K. Lim, jointly owns one bungalow with his wife, one with his son Evan Lim Chee Meng and one more with his daughter Lim Huey Ching.

The remaining three Singapore properties include two condominium units in Stevens Road - one owned by Mr Evan Lim and another by Ms Lim. 

According to the court order, Ms Lim also has a condominium in Bukit Timah and three other properties in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. 

The order also covers sale proceeds after payment of mortgages if any of the properties have been sold. 

The injunction, which will remain in force until the trial or further order, means that the Lim family will not be allowed to dispose of or deal with their assets up to a value of US$3.5 billion, except for expenditure for living expenses and legal fees.

The order also showed that the family’s living expenses were capped at $10,000 a week each for the elder Lim, Mr Evan Lim, and Ms Lim, according to the court documents. 

Other assets that have been frozen include the elder Lim’s monies in bank accounts with OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank, his AIA insurance policies and membership with Raffles Marina.

Ms Lim’s monies in bank accounts with POSB Bank, DBS Bank, UOB and ANZ Bank Australia, her AIA insurance policies, and memberships with Raffles Marina and Singapore Polo Club were also frozen.

Mr Evan Lim’s monies in bank accounts with POSB Bank, DBS Bank, UOB, Nikko Asset Management and Schroder Investment, his AIA insurance policies and membership with Raffles Marina were frozen.

Also frozen were the Lim family’s shares in the Hin Leong group of companies, which includes Hin Leong Trading, shipping arm Ocean Tankers, Xihe Holdings and their subsidiaries.

The family is allowed to spend “a reasonable sum on legal advice and legal and other representations”, the order said. But before spending any money, they must tell the liquidator’s lawyers where the money is to come from, the order added.

They also have to disclose all of their assets worldwide, including their value, location and other details to the liquidators within seven days of being served the order. 

The order does not prohibit the Lim family “from dealing with or disposing their assets in the ordinary and proper course of business", but they have to account to the liquidators every 14 days for the sum spent.

ST has asked their lawyers at Davinder Singh Chambers for comment. 

Last August, PwC, represented by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull of Drew & Napier, sued to force the Lim family to repay the US$3.5 billion debt and $90 million in dividends they allegedly paid themselves even though their firm was insolvent.

PwC alleged that they had breached their fiduciary duties as directors and engaged in fraudulent trading. On April 30, Singapore prosecutors charged the elder Lim with 23 counts of forgery-related offences.

The asset freeze order application was made to ensure there are enough proceeds for the liquidators to enforce against, should they win the lawsuit.

- Two good class bungalows in Bukit Timah and one in Tanglin Hill 

- Two condominium units in Stevens Road and one in Bukit Timah

- Three properties in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia 

- Net sale proceeds after payment of mortgages if any of the properties have been sold 

- Monies in accounts with OCBC Bank, UOB Bank, POSB Bank, DBS Bank, ANZ Bank Australia, Nikko Asset Management and Schroder Investment

- AIA insurance policies 

- Memberships with Raffles Marina and Singapore Polo Club