One of Singapore's business legends. The Malaysia-born tycoon was named Singapore's richest man by America's Forbes magazine last year and his fortune is estimated at around $5 billion today

Two of tycoon Khoo's daughters charged

In what is widely seen as a test case for Singapore's disclosure-based regulatory regime, two daughters of the late Khoo Teck Puat were charged yesterday over their failure to fully disclose the tycoon's stakes in several listed companies and perform their duties as directors.

"Ms Khoo is distressed that she is in this situation but has great respect for, and confidence in, Singapore's judicial system. All she asks is that the legal process be allowed to run its course and that she not be pre-judged based on rumour and speculation.'
- Statement by Elizabeth Khoo (above), seen here outside the courtroom

Jacqueline Khoo, 42, and Elizabeth Khoo, 45, face 10 and seven charges respectively under the Companies Act and the Securities and Futures Act (SFA). The penalties range from fines between $5,000 and $250,000, to jail terms between one and seven years.

No pleas were taken from the sisters in the Subordinate Court yesterday, and the case will be next heard on April 26. The two are on bail of $200,000 each, although Elizabeth had to post an additional $100,000 bail because she is traveling to New York.

Two of Singapore's top lawyers are representing the sisters. Jacqueline has engaged Senior Counsel Davinder Singh of Drew & Napier, while Elizabeth has hired Senior Counsel K Shanmugam of Allen & Gledhill.

The non-disclosures came to light after Mr Khoo died last February. The following month, four of his children - Jacqueline, Elizabeth, Mavis and Eric, who are trustees of his estate - revealed that he had undeclared holdings in Goodwood Park Hotel, Hotel Malaysia and Central Properties, all companies controlled by him. In April, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) announced that it had started investigations.

In separate statements yesterday, both sisters made the point that the siblings had come forward voluntarily with the information on the non-disclosures and had cooperated fully with CAD.

'She has every faith in the enforcement and judicial process,' said a statement issued by Jacqueline's lawyers on her behalf.

Elizabeth's statement said: 'Ms Khoo is distressed that she is in this situation but has great respect for, and confidence in, Singapore's judicial system. All she asks is that the legal process be allowed to run its course and that she not be pre-judged based on rumour and speculation.'

The main charges against Jacqueline and Elizabeth pertain to Sections 157 and 401 of the Companies Act, which respectively cover failures in performing directors' duties and making misleading statements. They have also been charged under Sections 203, 204 and 331 of the SFA, which cover continual disclosure requirements. As directors of Goodwood Park and Central Properties, Jacqueline and Elizabeth have been charged over the non-disclosure of a stake of 12.2 per cent (5.5 million shares) and another stake of 14.4 per cent (6.506 million shares) belonging to Mr Khoo in Goodwood, as well as the non-disclosure of a 0.49 per cent stake (146,000 shares) in Central Properties.

In addition, Elizabeth has been charged as a director of Hotel Malaysia for the non-disclosure of a stake of 4.92 per cent (812,569 shares) belonging to Mr Khoo in the company.

Both sisters have also been charged under Section 164 of the Companies Act for causing Goodwood's failure to maintain a proper register of Mr Khoo's interests.

While the charges are broadly similar, there are notable differences. Jacqueline has been charged for failing 'to use reasonable diligence' in discharging her duties as a director, while Elizabeth has been charged for failing 'to act honestly' in discharging her duties. Jacqueline's alleged offences are also dated earlier, as far back as May 20, 1998, while Elizabeth's alleged offences are dated back to Aug 15, 2003.

Lawyers for both sisters said yesterday they are studying their options. Mr Singh represented the Khoo estate last year when the issue first broke. But Elizabeth engaged Mr Shanmugam only at the weekend.

  Jacquline Khoo with her lawyer

Legal observers are unsure how the women will plead. But given the close links between the charges against them, both are expected to adopt the same position. - SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES   by Wong Wei Kong     6 Apr 2005

Farewell to a tycoon

It was a funeral fit for a king. Many turned up to bid goodbye yesterday to one of Singapore's richest men. Along the very upmarket Belmont Road, a long stretch of fancy cars lined the street for banking and hotel tycoon Khoo Teck Puat's funeral.

Mr Khoo was 87 when he died on Saturday from a heart attack. This was a man who loved his 'family, good food and cars, in that order' and owned a fleet of cars, including Rolls-Royces, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.

His business empire included Goodwood Park Hotel, York Hotel and London's Standard Chartered Bank.

The man, whose net worth was estimated at $5 billion, used to say: 'In life, you have to have the luck, the timing and the aptitude.'   - Singapore Business Times    26 Feb 2004

Tycoon's death renews speculation over Stanchart
What will now happen to Khoo Teck Puat's 13.5% stake?

The death of Khoo Teck Puat has thrown up the burning question of what will happen now to his crown jewel - the 157 million shares representing around 13.5 per cent of Standard Chartered plc

The death on Saturday of the 86-year-old tycoon who controlled the Goodwood Group and was Stanchart's biggest single shareholder is likely to revive speculation of a takeover bid for the bank.

Stanchart has long been seen as a takeover target for a large UK or US bank such as Barclays plc or Citigroup. In more recent times, Asians such as Malaysian business tycoon Quek Leng Chan and even Singapore's DBS Group were said to be potential buyers of Mr Khoo's stake.

Going by Stanchart's latest market capitalisation of 10.8 billion (S$34.3 billion), Mr Khoo's stake in the bank - held mainly through three Singapore companies, Goodwood Park Hotel Ltd, Central Properties Ltd and Hotel Malaysia Ltd - is worth some 1.5 billion. To this day, his Stanchart shares remain the most prominent illustration of his investment strategy: 'When no one wants it, that's the time to buy a few million.'

In 1986, he became one of three financiers who rescued Standard Chartered, collectively buying 37 per cent of the bank to fend off a hostile takeover bid by Britain's Lloyds Bank plc. Today, London-based Stanchart is regarded as one of the most truly international banks in the world, employing 30,000 people in over 500 locations in more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa and other emerging markets. Last week, the bank reported a 22 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for 2003 to US$1.54 billion.

In a statement yesterday, Stanchart said it was 'saddened to hear the news' of the death of Mr Khoo, who together with his family, have been 'tremendous supporters' of the bank. 'Our thoughts are with his family at this time,' it said.

On what may happen to Mr Khoo's stake in Stanchart, the bank's spokeswoman said: 'This is a question for his family. The shares are held in a number of companies and family interests. We have not been given any indication from the family, other than they're committed to their shareholding in our company.'

The Stanchart rescue wasn't the first time Mr Khoo shook up the financial world. UK financial services group Exco plc was the firm which catapulted him to prominence in London. He caused a stir in November 1985 when he bought 22 per cent of Exco from the Kuwait Investment Office a day after the latter had bought it. The purchase was orchestrated by former United Overseas Bank deputy chairman Allan Ng, who had left the bank after 18 years to act as Mr Khoo's adviser.

Mr Khoo became the single largest shareholder of Exco after upping his interest to nearly 30 per cent but he was forced to sell out a year later when the Brunei government accused him of multiple fraud at the National Bank of Brunei (NBB) in 1986.

The NBB affair, in which he was at the centre of a scandal involving the biggest bank in Brunei, remains the biggest blot in Mr Khoo's illustrious career.

He was accused of being the mastermind behind the systematic plundering of funds totalling B$1 billion (S$1 billion) from NBB, a bank his family owned and ran since its founding in 1965.

It was alleged that, taking advantage of Brunei's lax banking laws, his family's connections with members of the royal family, and a corrupt auditor, he siphoned the money out through undocumented, unsecured loans to a number of private companies for investment in real estate, stocks and bonds around the world.

In what must have brought him the greatest pain, he was also accused of guiding his eldest son, Ban Hock, 'into dishonesty and fraud'. As chairman of NBB, Ban Hock served two years of a three-year sentence in Brunei's Jerudong jail for conspiracy to defraud the bank and its depositors, returning to Singapore in November 1988 a broken man.

The senior Khoo was never charged, probably because he agreed to make good the $450 million owed to 33 banks based in Singapore and $150 million to the Brunei treasury which had used its own money to cover depositors.

While he survived the NBB affair, it was never quite the same again for Mr Khoo. He retreated from the public limelight and remained reclusive until his death.

Still, the Malaysia-born tycoon will be remembered as one of Singapore's business legends. He was named Singapore's richest man by America's Forbes magazine last year and his fortune is estimated at around $5 billion today.

His father, Khoo Yang Thin, had stakes in several Hokkien banks that later amalgamated to form Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC Bank) in 1933. Mr Khoo's first job was as a bank clerk in OCBC.

In 1960, fed up that he could not make any headway in OCBC, he left to start Malayan Banking (Maybank) with a paid-up capital of RM10 million. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr Khoo, who died of a heart attack, leaves behind 14 children from two wives, both deceased, several sons- and daughters-in-law, as well as a brood of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  - By Wong Wei Kong    Singapore Business Times     23 Feb 2004

Khoo was simple person, says his film-maker son

Well-known film-maker Eric Khoo, 37, pays tribute to his father, the late Khoo Teck Puat and Standard Chartered plc's largest shareholder.

'My dad was a very humble, humane and simple man, but he had an incredibly brilliant mind and nerves of steel. What he told me when I was a small boy is 'if you believe in something, go for it, but always have humility'. He said 'with that, you'll be able to achieve whatever you want.'

'He was such a character. He's an incredible father. I knew I could never be like him. He was just such a maverick. He was a visionary. He breaks all the rules and he was great at what he did. I just look at him in awe.

'I watched him and basically believed in his motto 'buy cheap, sell high'. In many ways, when you look at a lot of my productions, they're really like cheap budget films, but ultimately you make a profit.

'He was a very compassionate person. He was also very shy, a family sort of guy, really a one-man show.

'He's been a tremendous inspiration. I hold absolute high admiration for him. In spite of all his successes, I stress he was a very humble person. We didn't live a lavish lifestyle. Fair enough he liked his cars. He was basically a very simple guy. I remember in the old days, in terms of a shirt, he won't even spend more than twenty dollars.

'I was contemplating doing a documentary on him. And I thought it would be a good thing that my son would talk to him direct and call it Gong Gong, which means grandfather in Chinese.

'I was actually thinking quite hard about it in the last couple of months as in whenever he spoke at morning conversations - his life story - especially about when he was a young boy. It would have been fantastic if we had brought out the digital camera and shot it right there and then.

'He was never really much into cinema, not a movie fan, and I think for many years he thought 'why was I wasting my time?'. He's never seen any of my works or helped finance any of them, but I guess maybe in some respect he knew I was enjoying what I was doing. In many ways, I can never be like him and I have to do things my own way. On what the Khoo family may do with the stake in Standard Chartered: 'It may be a bit too premature at this point in time to disclose anything,' Eric Khoo said. - Bloomberg


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