EXCLUSIVE! Bling Empire’s Kane Lim’s uncle uses forged documents to obtain HSBC financing resulting in US$3.5 billion in debts (Update: 11pm)

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    (Left) Lim Oon Kuin, (Middle) Kane Lim and (Right) Kenny Lim Oon Cheng

    12th February 2021 – (Singapore) While Kane Lim, one of the main cast members of the Netflix show Bling Empire marketed as Crazy Rich Asians set in the U.S. continues to enjoy the Hollywood limelight, his family members back home in Singapore are scrambling to keep a low profile. The 30-year-old heir claimed that he grew up in Singapore where his family made their money in oil, shipping, tanking and real estate business and he has persistently refused to talk about his family background simply because it is controversial. Not only is Kane secretive about his family background but he also keeps his sexuality private. In Bling Empire, he repetitively dabbles in the love affairs and lifestyles of other cast members but remains tight-lipped on his own relationship status and family background. Judging from his over-the-top fashion sense and self-narcissism, one can safely deduce his penchant for partners of the same sex.

    Meanwhile, as we have previously exposed in an earlier article, Kane’s father is most likely to be Kenny Lim Oon Cheng, Xihe Holdings interim chief executive in Singapore. Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd is part of the Lim’s family business empire, which also includes oil trader Hin Leong Trading and fleet manager Ocean Tankers (Pte) Ltd. Kane’s uncle, Lim Oon Kuin (known as OK Lim) is the founder of beleaguered Singaporean oil trader Hin Leong Trading (HLT). OK Lim was No. 14 on Forbes’ list of Singapore’s 50 richest people in 2014. He was reported to have a net worth of about US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion). Kane’s father is also a non-executive director in NH Ceramics Limited in Singapore. The company supplies and distributes an extensive range of premier grade ceramics, marble, granite tile products to architects, developers, contractors and home owners. Kenny Lim has been involved in the marine industry, particularly in the field of oil trading and marine transportation for more than 20 years. Kane’s father’s experience fits perfectly with his description of the nature of his family business. His father holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Finance from the University of Maryland, USA.

    Several notices were published in the Government Gazette on 19th November 2020 regarding a judicial management order for Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd and some of its subsidiaries. The affidavit was filed by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) following incidents of fraud uncovered at Hin Leong Trading (HLT). “The Xihe subsidiaries have persistently failed to seek and collect payments from Ocean Tankers for months or years, to the prejudice of creditors of the Xihe Group and in breach of contractual obligations owed to OCBC,” stated OCBC in its court filing. Some incidents cited by OCBC that raised some red flags include Xihe transferring USD 208.1 million to HLT via its subsidiary Ocean Tankers “for no valid commercial purpose” and some bareboat charters of OCBC-funded vessels were cancelled without OCBC’s authorisation. 

    According to Business Times in Singapore, the Lim family that owns beleaguered Singaporean oil trader Hin Leong Trading (HLT) was seeking to block a request from creditor OCBC that overseers be appointed for Xihe Holdings and four of the family’s other subsidiaries to recoup its debt last year. OCBC applied for the Singapore High Court to appoint judicial managers over Xihe, owned by the family of Hin Leong founder, OK Lim. OK Lim resigned from all his executive roles at Ocean Tankers, Hin Leong Trading, the Xihe Group and related companies, effective 17th April 2020, but continues to be a shareholder in the companies. Lim resigned from Hin Leong on 17th April while stating that he wished for his children to remain as directors of the company. On 21st April, the Singapore Police Force confirmed that an investigation of Hin Leong was underway. OK Lim was charged with forgery on 14th August.

    According to Bloomberg in November 2020, Kane’s uncle, OK Lim denied allegations by the company’s biggest creditor that he used forged documents to obtain financing. HSBC Holdings Plc is suing Lim, his children, and a Hin Leong Trading Pte employee to recover US$85.3 million in financing that the bank alleges they obtained with forged accords.

    As a result, court action is under way to force OK Lim and his two children to repay US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) in debt and $90 million in dividends that they allegedly paid themselves even though their company was insolvent. The legal action has been instigated by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services, the judicial manager of the insolvent company, Hin Leong Trading. Hin Leong Trading (Pte.) Ltd, under judicial managers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, has made an application to freeze assets, shares and funds held by its founder OK Lim and his two children as efforts to recoup US$3.5 billion of debt from the collapsed oil trader continue. More than 20 banks are fighting to recover billions of dollars in loans to the fabled trader after wrong-way bets on COVID-19’s impact on oil prices unfurled hidden losses and alleged frauds. The application to the High Court of Singapore was filed early last month. The court has requested the Lim family to file its response to the application by 13th January, documents show. The hearing is fixed for 4th March. The family assets highlighted by Hin Leong Trading include properties in Singapore and Australia, cash and investments, insurance policies, shares and club memberships, according to the filing. OK Lim and his children may remove any of the assets from Singapore, or dispose or deal with the assets so long as the total unencumbered value of his assets still in Singapore remains no less than $3.5 billion.

    Separately, the Singapore court received winding-up applications for several businesses owned by the Lim family, according to government notices.

    An application to wind up Hin Leong Marine International, a lubricant oil-blending unit, was filed by OK Lim and his son Evan Lim, a document showed. Another application for the winding up of eight shipping entities under Xihe Holdings, also owned by the Lim family, was also seen.

    On 15th January 2021, the Singapore High Court granted a three-month extension on the judicial management order to restructure Singapore’s troubled oil trader Hin Leong Trading (HLT) subject to certain conditions, according to sources. This follows an application by Hin Leong Trading’s JMs for more time as the JM order that was granted beginning August last year is set to expire on 4th February, 2021. HLT’s JMs are Goh Thien Phong and Chan Kheng Tek of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) while the JMs of its sister company, OTPL are Ernst & Young’s Angela Ee and Purandar Rao.

    Back in 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore charged Kenny Lim Oon Cheng and his niece Lim Huey Yih for insider trading as they were found to have contravened the Securities and Futures Act (SFA). Between 15th and 22nd May 2009, Lim Oon Cheng bought 2.27 million shares in Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC) and 101,000 shares in Keppel Corporation while in possession of price-sensitive and non-public information. The information concerns the acquisition of SPC shares by PetroChina International (Singapore) (PIPL) from Keppel Corporation Limited (KCL) and PIPL’s mandatory general offer for SPC shares.

    There is an uncanny resemblance between Kane Lim and Kenny Lim Oon Cheng. Both spot high forehead and similar nose profile. However, Kane Lim probably injected botox into his lips to make them look puffer.
    Lim Oon Kuin (right) and his son Evan Lim Chee Meng seen in a 2006 file photo. Lim, his son and his daughter Lim Huey Ching are accused of fraudulent trading and breaching their fiduciary duties as directors of oil trader Hin Leong Trading. Picture source: The Straits Times Singapore.
    A Good Class Bungalow (GCB) sitting on a 19,989 sq ft, freehold site on Second Avenue, just off Bukit Timah Road, changed hands for $27 million ($1,351 psf), according to a caveat lodged with URA Realis on April 14 and downloaded on April 22. A title search shows that the property is held by Lim Oon Kuin (more commonly known as “OK Lim”) – the founder of Singapore’s biggest, privately held oil trader, Hin Leong Trading – and his wife, Tan Sook Eng.
    The GCB at Third Avenue which Lim purchased 25 years ago for $8.95 million ($614 psf). The property is owned jointly with his son, Chee Meng (Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore). At Tanglin Hill, Lim also owns a GCB at Tanglin Villas jointly with daughter Huey Ching, who is also a director of Hin Leong Trading. The freehold property was purchased in November 1999, but no caveat was lodged then.

    On 26th October, 1996, an obituary was published in the Straits Times in Singapore and it listed father as Kenny Lim Oon Cheng and mother as Irene Kam Sau Lai. The brothers were listed as Kane Lim Kai Jun and Keane Lim Kai Jian. It is believed that one of Kane’s siblings had passed away in that year. Kane once shared his Singapore Armed Forces Identity Card on social media which shows part of his name as ‘Jun’ Kane.

    Obituary published in The Straits Times in 1996 contains Kane Lim’s full name and his father’s name.
    Kane once shared his Singapore Armed Forces Identity Card on social media partially covered with his AMEX CENTURION CARD.
    Kane Lim and his mother. Source: Kane Lim’s instagram.
    Kane Lim and his mother. Kane posted on social media that his parents were married for 31 years in May 2020.

    This explains why Kane’s family did not respond positively when he texted his family WhatsApp group chat to let them know that the show topped the Netflix Top 10 rankings in Singapore in January. He said “You know Asian parents. I could tell that everyone read my messages, but there was no comment. So I deleted them. I was a bit disappointed but I’m used to it”. He subsequently got a response after he deleted his initial texts. It said, “Oh, what an achievement”, which Lim thought sounded fake.

    If the family is in trouble of this magnitude, we believe any parents, not only of Asian roots would not want their children to flaunt their wealth on a TV show to attract unnecessary attention. Kane’s source of wealth remains a mystery as one may wonder if some of the ill-gotten gains from the family may have been channelled to him to keep them away from creditors and authorities in Singapore.

    The ongoing tribulation in his family may have caused Kane Lim to embrace Buddhism teaching i.e. ‘letting go of things doesn’t mean you have to completely let go of the current moment. You can own it but you don’t have the fear of losing it’ and he said that ‘so, if I lose something today, I have to be able to let that go’.

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