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Hin Leong founder O.K. Lim gets $28.5m offer for his Bukit Timah good class bungalow

The Second Avenue bungalow in Bukit Timah jointly owned by Lim Oon Kuin and his wife.PHOTO: ST FILE

Grace Leong

Senior Business Correspondent

Jul 17, 2021, 3:05 pm SGT

SINGAPORE - A $28.5 million offer has been made for one of beleaguered Hin Leong founder Lim Oon Kuin's good class bungalows (GCBs) now under a court-ordered asset freeze injunction, The Straits Times has learnt.

The freehold GCB in Second Avenue in Bukit Timah is one of nine properties in Singapore and Australia that are among assets frozen by the High Court to recoup US$3.5 billion (S$4.75 billion) in debt from the collapsed oil trader.

The $28.5 million offer price works out to $1,426 per sq ft (psf) on the freehold land area of 19,984 sq ft, said Mr Samuel Eyo, managing director of Lighthouse Property Consultants.

"Based on a recent offer for another GCB in Third Avenue at $1,706 psf, I believe that the offer for the GCB in Second Avenue is a reasonable price. This GCB is on a down slope, whereas the Third Avenue GCB is on a hill top so the location is better," he said.

Razer co-founder and chief executive Tan Min-Liang is in the early stage of buying a property in Third Avenue for $52.8 million, according to The Business Times. The price works out to $1,706 psf on the freehold land area of 30,954 sq ft.

This is the second attempt to sell the Second Avenue GCB. Queries to the Lim family and their lawyers at Davinder Singh Chambers went unanswered.

ST last year reported that an offer was made to buy the District 10 GCB, which is held by Lim and his wife, at $27 million. A caveat had been lodged just days before Hin Leong and its shipping arm, Ocean Tankers, filed for bankruptcy protection on April 17, 2020.

But the sale was aborted in April 2020 amid the firm's deepening financial woes.

For the current offer, ST understands that the Lim family will need to get the blessing of the judicial managers-turned-liquidators of Hin Leong, who in May succeeded in obtaining a Mareva injunction to freeze the Lim family's assets worldwide up to a value of US$3.5 billion. The Lim family may also apply to the High Court for approval of the property's sale.

Generally, if assets under the Mareva injunction are sold, the proceeds would be retained in bank accounts in the defendants' names. These proceeds will then be subject to the Mareva order, ST understands.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has dismissed the Lim family's application for leave to appeal against the Mareva injunction, HSBC lawyer Moses Lin of Shook Lin & Bok told ST on Saturday.

Of the alleged US$3.5 billion in outstanding debts owed by Hin Leong to 23 banks, HSBC and ABN Amro have the biggest exposure.

Embattled oil tycoon Lim Oon Kuin at the State Courts on June 24, 2021.

According to a July 13 e-mail seen by ST, the liquidators told creditors that the Court of Appeal "accepted Drew & Napier's submissions and found that the High Court judge had not committed any manifest error in granting the Mareva injunctions and there was no basis to grant the Lim family leave to appeal against the High Court's decision".

The liquidators are represented by Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull and Mr Chia Voon Jiet of Drew & Napier.

Apart from real estate in Singapore and Australia, the Mareva injunction also covers assets including club memberships, insurance policies, shares, cash and investments.

Details of the order showed that of six properties in Singapore, three are good class bungalows in Bukit Timah and Tanglin Hill.

In addition to the Second Avenue GCB, Lim, better known as O.K. Lim, jointly owns one other bungalow 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. Another condominium in Bukit Timah had been owned by Ms Lim.

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 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 showed that the family's living expenses were capped at $10,000 a week each for the elder Mr Lim, Mr Evan Lim, and Ms Lim.

In June, the elder Lim was handed 105 additional charges of cheating and forgery. Together with the 25 forgery-related charges filed last year and in April this year, the 79-year-old former oil tycoon now faces a total of 130 charges involving US$2.7 billion in alleged fraudulent loans disbursed.

Singapore prosecutors disclosed that 16 banks in Singapore have suffered US$291.9 million in "actual monetary loss" out of the US$2.7 billion loans they were allegedly duped into extending to Hin Leong by the elder Lim.

He is accused of cheating both local and international banks to get financing by deceiving them into believing that the oil trader had entered into sales contracts with oil firm BP Singapore, according to the charges. The losses are part of a total of US$3.5 billion owed by Hin Leong to the 23 banks.

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