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Scandal-hit Bellagraph Nova says still bidding for Newcastle

[SINGAPORE] A scandal-hit firm in Singapore insists it is still seeking to buy Newcastle United, a report said Friday, despite a police probe and accusations it doctored photos to falsely show its founders meeting with Barack Obama.

Bellagraph Nova (BN) Group, founded by two Singaporean entrepreneurs and a Chinese business partner, announced in August it was in "advanced talks" to buy the English Premier League team.

But the bid became mired in controversy over allegations photos had been doctored to show the trio meeting with the former US president.

Police are also investigating a company linked to the Singaporean co-founders, cousins Terence and Nelson Loh, after an accounting firm lodged a report over unauthorised signatures on the group's financial statements.

The firm's Chinese co-founder Evangeline Shen nonetheless told the BBC the firm was still pushing ahead with its bid, reported to be worth £280 million (S$492.4 million).

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"We are always in contact and we are still very aggressive on trying to close the deal," she said, adding the company's team recently met a representative of Newcastle's owner.

"We started real planning for the club such as whom to hire as trainer and whom to sign for players," she added.

Ms Shen did not respond to queries sent to her by AFP.

BN Group's bid came after a Saudi-backed consortium withdrew its offer to buy Newcastle in late July, following a months-long wait for Premier League approval.

The company has said it oversees 31 business "entities" worldwide, with a group revenue of US$12 billion last year and 23,000 employees.

It has blamed "errant individuals" for the manipulated pictures of Mr Obama.

Regulators have also announced investigations into several firms linked to the Loh cousins.

AFP

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