Banks accuse Singaporean trader Agritrade of ‘massive’ fraud

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – At least 20 banks facing losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars from the collapse of Singapore-based Agritrade International Pte Ltd (AIPL) have accused the commodities trader of fraud, according to court documents.

Singapore’s High Court appointed an acting judicial director for the company last month after dismissing its request for a moratorium on $ 1.55 billion debt owed to dozens of creditors, including $ 983 million owed to secured lenders.

The banks have filed complaints with the High Court of Singapore to recover their money and allege fraud at the AIPL, along with the United Overseas Bank (UOB) of Singapore. UOBH.SI and Maybank from Malaysia MBBM.KL owed nearly $ 108 million each, according to the documents.

“There is strong evidence that massive, premeditated and systematic fraud was perpetrated by the defendants,” Dutch bank ING said in a February 12 affidavit, referring to AIPL founder Say Pek Ng and his son Xinwei Ng, his general manager. .

ING has nearly $ 100 million in outstanding credit, followed by Japanese bank MUFG with around $ 78 million and France’s Natixis with $ 67 million, according to the documents.

All banks declined to comment on Reuters regarding the cases.

Oon & Bazul LLP, representing AIPL and Xinwei Ng, Marican & Associates, which represents Say Peck Ng, and Agritrade Resources did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

AIPL is the parent company of Agritrade Resources Ltd, listed in Hong Kong 1131.HK.

In affidavits to the court, Xinwei said the AIPL encountered financial problems in 2018, amid a downturn in the commodity market, and that its woes worsened after many banks halted their operations. funding.

Xinwei said AIPL hired FTI Consulting (Singapore) Pte Ltd as an independent financial advisor in January to review its financial situation, among other things.

Subsequently, he broadened the scope of FTI’s activities to include investigations into accusations of creditors’ fraud.

The FTI issued an interim report saying it had “discovered significant fraudulent activity, including providing duplicate bills of lading to several financiers,” Xinwei told the court.

FTI declined to comment on the report to Reuters.

In response to allegations of fraud against AIPL, Xinwei managed the day-to-day business of Agritrade Resources and its subsidiaries, while his father was in charge of AIPL’s business activities.

“I will fully support the IFA, the police and the lawyers to fully discover the degree of fraud and do whatever is necessary to locate and recover the money obtained from the lenders,” Xinwei said in the documents.

Xinwei said that the AIPL terminated the employment of the elder Ng on February 1, after which the latter resigned.

Xinwei informed creditors of this development during their meetings, he added.

“My father suddenly left us and left Singapore on or around December 21, 2019. I understand he went to China. I don’t know if he intends to return to Singapore.

Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh and Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Florence Tan and Clarence Fernandez

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