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Foreland Fabrictech's newly-appointed independent director quits after SGX queries

FORELAND Fabrictech Holdings said independent non-executive director Soh Yong Soon has resigned just days after his appointment, following queries by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on his suitability.

Mr Soh - who was also named chairman of the Chinese textile company's audit, nominating and renumeration committees on his appointment on May 9 - submitted his resignation on May 13.

On May 10, the bourse questioned Mr Soh's ability to fulfil his role on an independent director, given that he was previously chief financial officer (CFO) of China Environment from May 2015 to April 2016, working under Foreland's current executive chairman Huang Min, who was then executive chairman of China Environment and Mr Soh's superior.

SGX also referenced the fact that China Environment's independent auditors had raised concerns and issued a disclaimer of opinion for its audited FY2015 financial statements.

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It noted the past working relationship between Mr Huang, Mr Soh and Foreland executive director Yang Meng Yang in China Environment. Mr Yang is Mr Huang's son-in-law, and was a non-executive, non-independent director of China Environment.

Additionally, Mr Huang and Mr Soh were working at China Environment during an alleged fraud case in which China Environment took legal action against Mr Huang in relation to certain trade receivables that the company said were false or non-existent. That lawsuit was settled last year.

In response to the SGX queries on May 13, Foreland Fabrictech said Mr Soh served as an executive officer of China Environment and not the director, and that he was not only reporting to Mr Huang, but also to all other directors which included the company's audit committee.

It said when it appointed Mr Soh, the board was of the view that Mr Soh’s track record as CFO in China Environment did not disqualify him from being an independent director of Foreland as Mr Soh was not listed on SGX’s directors’ and executive officer’s watchlist, and the board was also "not fully privy to the historical facts and events involving Mr Soh and China Environment".

"However, after further discussions between Mr Soh and the company," said Foreland, Mr Soh decided to resign "due to his timecommitment to his other new business opportunities."

Trading in mainboard-listed Foreland Fabrictech's shares has been suspended since December 2016.