30th January 2021 – (Singapore) If you have binge-watched the latest eight-episode Netflix show Bling Empire marketed as Crazy Rich Asians set in the U.S., you either love or hate the ‘cringey’ over-the-top cast. Dubbed a cross between the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the show follows the glamorous lives of Kane Lim, the son of a controversial Singaporean billionaire, and his friends. The 30-year-old heir grew up in Singapore where his family made their money in oil, shipping, tanking, and real estate, but his true passion is for fashion and flaunting his feminine and extravagant collection on his Instagram. His over-the-top hoard of shoes is reportedly worth more than US$365,000. Kane has his own line of fashion apparels, handbags and jackets and runs an investment fund in L.A. called Kix Capital, where he handles real estate deals, biomedicine and renewable energy.
According to Kane, he took a loan from his father as an investment in order to create his own fortune. He started investing in fashion and stocks at age 17, and managed to pay back the loan to his father within 2 months. By the age of 19, he had made a sum of more than 7 figures.
Kane Lim recently offered for sale one of the residential properties he built and invested most probably with his father’s money. He posted on his Instagram account three days ago a mansion at 1531 Glenavon Avenue, Venice, CA 90291, USA. He hopes to sell it for US$3.6m by riding on his new-found fame on the NETFLIX series.
Kane has kept his family background very secretive despite his lavish lifestyle. There has been rumours that Kane’s father is Kenny Lim Oon Cheng, Xihe Holdings interim chief executive in Singapore, Kenny is the brother of Lim Oon Kuin who is the founder of beleaguered Singaporean oil trader Hin Leong Trading (HLT). In a recent interview published on 21st January, questions about Lim’s family were even clearly marked as restrictions. 8days.even though he told the outlet that Singaporean singer Stephanie Sun and Taiwanese actor/singer Vivian Hsu are family friends. Lim’s family has business interests in real estate, trucking, oil, and tankers, Kreider said. Bling Empire the first part. In the same interview Yahoo! News, Lim said, deliberately avoided disclosing the identities of his family members because he wanted to choose his own path. “I do it on purpose because I don’t want to depend on them,” he said. “And this show is about creating your own empire.”
His LinkedIn profile calls him president of Merryland Pacific Limited since 2008. Merryland Pacific Limited is fully owned by Mr. Lim Oon Cheng according to 2015 company announcements on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX). Lim Oon Cheng, also known as Kenny Lim, is believed to be Kane Lim’s father. In an interview with 8days.sg, Lim discovered that his father, who did not give his name, was sitting on the board of the Xian Chai Medical Institute. Charity website names “Lin [sic] Oon Cheng ”from 2016 to 2018 as a director and board member. Lim Oon Cheng donated SGD$1 million to Xian Chai in 2016.
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.
Kenny Lim Oon Cheng and his nephew Lim Xuey Yih were fined SGD$11.8 million in April 2015 for selling insiders information. Civil penalties were imposed by the Singapore Monetary Office after the two admitted to insider trading, their total profit in 2009 was SGD$ 4.7 million.
Lim Oon Cheng, who made SGD$3.8 million in profits, also admitted to fraudulent trading and was fined a total of SGD$9.6 million – at the time. The biggest penalty used for insider trading in Singapore.
Lim Oon Cheng is also the brother of oil tycoon Lim Oon Kuin, better known as O.K. Lim. The latter is the founder of Hin Leong Trading, which was embroiled in a scandal last year that saw the company file for bankruptcy in April, marking one of the world’s largest collapses of an oil trading firm.
In August and September 2020, O.K. Lim was hit with two charges of abetment of forgery for the purpose of cheating in Singaporean court. The offence carries a fine and a jail term of up to 10 years. Lim, his children and a Hin Leong employee have also been sued by HSBC Holdings to recover millions in financing the bank alleges they obtained with forged documents.
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. Oversea Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) applied for the Singapore High Court to appoint judicial managers over Xihe, owned by the family of Hin Leong founder Lim Oon Kuin, known as 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.
In a joint statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said that they were also “closely monitoring developments related to the firm and the broader oil trading and bunkering sectors”. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing suggested that Hin Leong’s bankruptcy would not have any negative impact on Singapore’s reputation or its “wider market”.
Hin Leong Trading’s restructuring or rehabilitation could only be viable if it was clubbed with other group companies under the Lim Family, an injection of the family’s personal assets, and their willingness to divest ownership in the companies.
When the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China was first announced, Lim believed that the Chinese government would effectively contain it and therefore made the “quintessential Hin Leong play” of betting that oil prices would rise as a result of a recovering demand for oil. However, as the coronavirus crisis worsened into a pandemic and amidst plunging crude oil prices, the company faced pressure to make partial loan repayments amounting to billions of dollars; despite selling off oil pledged as collateral, the company was still unable to raise enough money to par down its loans. In a meeting with its lenders, Lim revealed that the company had written off US$800 million in futures trading losses, although it had declared a revenue of US$20 billion and a net income of close to US$80 million in the 2019 financial year.
Hin Leong Trading (Pte.) Ltd, under judicial managers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, has made an application to freeze assets, shares and funds held by its founder Lim Oon Kuin and his two children as efforts to recoup US$3.5 billion of debt from the collapsed oil trader continue. The Singapore-based company is seeking to block the sale of any private properties and removal of assets from the city state among other measures, court filings show. The application was motivated by a real risk of asset dissipation, even as its judicial managers made progress with the sale of assets such as Universal Terminal.
Kenny Lim Oon Cheng, Xihe Holdings interim chief executive, the father of Kane Lim said in a 28th July affidavit reviewed by Reuters that granting OCBC’s request will “disrupt the constructive discussions that the Xihe Group has had with third parties including lenders”.
It could also result in a fire sale of its assets and “a destruction of value” for shareholders including lenders, he added. OCBC’s application is an attempt to obtain a “backdoor” ruling to freeze the Lim family’s assets in Xihe Group “to protect their interests as lenders to HLT” and its other shipping company Ocean Tankers, Kenny Lim also said. HLT owes OCBC US$250 million.
Kenny Lim is the brother of OK Lim, who with his son Evan Lim Chee Meng and daughter Lim Huey Ching own 77 companies under Xihe Group, which consists mainly of Xihe Holdings and Xihe Capital. Xihe Group owns 136 ships ranging from coastal barges to very large crude carriers (VLCCs).
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 fallout is still reverberating across global markets, prompting financial institutions to reassess their exposure and shaking out large tracts of the often opaque US$4 trillion oil-trading industry.
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 US$3.5 billion.
It is unsure if the company’s ill-gotten funds have been diverted to Kane’s father and the source of money to fund Kane’s lavish lifestyle in the United States is questionable. The Singapore authorities should perhaps start to investigate the money trail of Kane’s wealth if his father is indeed Kenny Lim.