Creditors seek SGD4.7 billion in claims from Hin Leong founder
Photo courtesy of Hin Leong Trading

Creditors seek SGD4.7 billion in claims from Hin Leong founder

The civil trial involving billionaire Lim Oon Kuin, commonly known as OK Lim, and his two children commenced on August 10, 2023 in Singapore court. Liquidators of Lim’s oil trading firm, Hin Leong Trading, are pursuing a claim of SGD4.7 billion (USD3.4 billion) to settle debts to creditors.

Lim, 81, once ranked among Singapore’s wealthiest individuals. However, after declaring bankruptcy in April 2020, he has been embroiled in numerous legal challenges. Alongside his son, Evan Lim Chee Meng, and daughter, Lim Huey Ching, allegations suggest they misrepresented Hin Leong’s profitability to secure financing, despite the company incurring losses.

Reports in 2020 indicated that Hin Leong hadn’t been profitable for several years, contradicting its official 2019 records. Liquidators are now demanding the Lim family pay the full SGD4.7 billion (USD3.4 billion), representing the company’s unsecured debts as of April 2020.

Hin Leong has more than 20 bank creditors, including major institutions like HSBC, UOB, OCBC, and DBS. HSBC, the largest creditor, is owed USD600 million and is currently seeking a return of USD85 million. The company’s debts to UOB, OCBC, and DBS Bank stand at USD100 million, USD200 million, and USD290 million, respectively.

The liquidators are also pushing for a declaration that holds the three Lims personally accountable for all company debts. They are further seeking the return of USD90 million in dividends the family received in 2017 and 2018.

Following its compulsory liquidation in 2020, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) managed the restructuring of Hin Leong’s debt. By 2021, only SGD359 million (USD264.5 million) had been recovered from the company. The High Court had previously approved a freeze on global assets worth up to SGD4.66 billion (USD3.4 billion) belonging to the Lim family.

This case, centered on recovering Hin Leong’s debts, is considered one of the most significant legal battles in Singapore’s recent history.