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Graft probe on IG Aviation Singapore directors scuppers parent's IPO

The trio face multiple charges of bribery and one of fraud linked to their dealings with the former CEO of a Malaysian firm

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The Singapore Exchange Centre in Shenton Way.

Singapore

INVESTIGATIONS into alleged corrupt acts by three directors of IG Aviation Singapore Pte Ltd (IGA) have thwarted plans by the company's parent, IG Logistics Group Pte Ltd, to seek a listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

The Business Times understands that the parent company had applied for an initial public offer (IPO) when investigations into the alleged offences by the directors of its aviation unit were underway.

The probe culminated in bribery charges against the trio, which has scuttled the bid by the parent to raise public funds for expansion.

With IG Logistics Group's attempt to list on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) nipped in the bud, investors have been spared from exposure to the risk of potentially losing their hard-earned money, given that when news of the suspected illegal acts breaks after the IPO, the company's share price is likely to go south, market observers said.

IGA has since changed its name to Xpress Aviation Pte Ltd.

When contacted, an SGX spokesman said the regulator is unable to comment on specific situations.

"In general, we have been working closely with market professionals to ensure the IPO review and due diligence process is robust. We also work closely with the Association of Banks in Singapore to enhance the Listings Due-Diligence Guidelines, and we have consulted the market on proposals to strengthen the regulation of Issue Managers.

"The new rules, expected later this year, will codify the role of issue managers as key gatekeepers for listings on SGX."

On Monday, the three Singapore men were charged for bribery-related offences.

They are father-and-son pair Peter Tan Chin Hock, 62, and Kenneth Tan Kwang Leng, 41; the third person, who is unrelated to the pair, is Tan Yong Yeow, 53.

Peter and Kenneth Tan are also directors of the parent group; the senior Tan is group chairman, and his son, chief executive of IG Logistics Group.

A statement by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said Tan Yong Yeow faces five counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Peter Tan to corruptly give gratification amounting to RM240,000 (S$51,791) to a Lee Shashitheren, a former executive director  and chief executive (see amendment note) of Raya Airways (RA), a Malaysian freighter operator.

The bribe was allegedly given so that Mr Shashitheren would show favour to IGA in relation to its general sales agent contract with RA. (IGA was appointed RA's general sales agent in Singapore back in 2015.)

The monies were allegedly remitted to Mr Shashitheren via Eastway Express Line (KL) in Malaysia.

Tan Yong Yeow also faces 15 counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Peter and Kenneth Tan to give Mr Shashitheren bribes amounting to MYR761,000, also as an inducement to show favour to IGA in relation to its general sales agent contract with RA.

The monies were allegedly remitted to Mr Shashitheren via Eastway and Tyche Infinite in Malaysia.

Additionally, Tan Yong Yeow faces one count of engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Peter and Kenneth Tan to defraud, by making false entries in payment vouchers belonging to IGA.

Peter Tan has been charged with five counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Tan Yong Yeow involving bribes of MYR240,000 to Mr Shashitheren; another 15 charges are for engaging in a conspiracy with Tan Yong Yeow and Kenneth Tan involving MYR761,000 in bribes; one count is for engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Tan Yong Yeow and Kenneth Tan with respect to those payment vouchers.

Kenneth Tan has been charged with 15 counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Tan Yong Yeow and Peter Tan involving bribes of MYR761,000 to Mr Shashitheren, and one count of engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Tan Yong Yeow and Peter Tan for the false entries in the payment vouchers.

Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. It is a serious offence to give bribes to another individual or entity.

An individual convicted on a corruption offence can be fined up to S$100,000 or imprisoned for up to five years or be both fined and imprisoned.

Amendment note: Raya Airways has clarified that Lee Shashitheren is no longer its CEO nor executive director and has left the group since Feb 2017. It added that Raya Airways has zero-tolerance towards corruption and would give its full cooperation to all appropriate authorities investigating above-mentioned matter as and whenever the need arises.