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Epicentre to dismiss uncontactable chairman, conduct investigative audit
EPICENTRE Holdings said on Thursday in response to Singapore Exchange queries that it plans to terminate the employment of Kenneth Lim Tiong Hian, its executive chairman and acting chief executive officer who has been uncontactable since May 24.
The former Apple reseller is also planning to engage an audit firm for an investigative audit of past transactions involving Mr Kenneth Lim and his associates. The special auditor will report directly to the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) on the past transactions and review the validity of each claim or debt.
"Hard measures on spending" will also be put in place by the company and its subsidiaries, it said in response to SGX queries over creditors and steps its independent directors had taken to safeguard the group's interests, as well as future plans.
In a regulatory update filed just before midnight, Epicentre disclosed additional details on various creditors – including the events leading up to creditor Goh Chee Hong's filing an application with the High Court to place Epicentre under judicial management. It also stated the debts owed to ELush T3, which runs Apple reseller iStudio, and Jonathan Lim.
Epicentre also said there were "discrepancies" in five loan agreements it was not aware of with two creditors, and that it has made two police reports on the matter requesting an investigation.
It previously disclosed the statutory demands on the two alleged creditors on July 16 but did not reveal their identities. The agreements had appeared to be signed off by Mr Kenneth Lim, the company said at the time.
In its response to SGX, the company said that of these five loan agreements, three claims were allegedly from Gemma Martinez totalling S$610,000; and two claims from Curtichs Javier totalling S$408,000, both include the loan amount and interest owed.
In its first police report dated July 15, the company said it had received two letters from the Essex Court Chambers in Duxton stating it was in debt to the two individuals that the company "do not know and have no business with".
Epicentre expanded on the "discrepancies" in the letters, such as the company seal which said "Broadwell Limited" instead of "Epicentre Holdings Limited", as well as the wrong colour of stamp used which was red instead of blue. The two letters also had the wrong registration number for the company, and the wrong address.
The second police report was made on July 16 to inform that the signatures in the agreements under the name "Kenneth Lim Tiong Hian" were believed to be fake compared to the signature Epicentre has in its records.
Ms Martinez's name was also identified in AA Group's recent announcement as an alleged creditor who sent two statutory demands and one letter of demand over financing agreements allegedly signed on AA Group's behalf by Mr Kenneth Lim.
AA Group said it did not authorise Mr Kenneth Lim to enter into the agreements on its behalf and he "is not and has never been a director, officer or employee of the company or any of its subsidiaries".
In its most recent response to SGX, the company also said its independent directors were not personally aware of the loan agreement entered into between MDR Limited and subsidiary Epicentre Pte Ltd (EPL), as they were appointed on Sept 25, 2018 and that the loan agreement was entered into on June 19, 2017.
The company was notified of the assignment from MDR to Edward Lee on June 19, 2019 through a notice of assignment. The quantum of the loan was said to be S$3 million, which was used to repay a loan from LLS Capital to EPL.
Epicentre Holdings said it intends to defend the claim through its legal counsel to the full extent of its merits, including "challenging the veracity of the alleged assignment" from MDR to Mr Lee if proceedings continue.
However, with Mr Goh’s court application to place the company in judicial management, no further steps can be taken by Mr Lee without the court’s leave. Thus, Epicentre Holdings will not take further steps.
Trading in Epicentre’s shares has been suspended since May 30.