Singapore Police Probe Hin Leong After $800 Million Oil Losses

(Bloomberg) -- The troubles facing Singaporean oil trading firm Hin Leong deepened as the city-state’s police have started investigating the company.

The probe, which the Singapore Police Force confirmed by email, is the latest twist in the downfall of the company, which owes $3.85 billion to more than 20 banks and revealed in court filings that it hid about $800 million in losses. Hin Leong didn’t immediately respond to emails and a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning in Singapore.

The implosion of Hin Leong Trading (Pte) Ltd., one of the biggest and most secretive players in the world of physical oil trading, is among the most spectacular impacts wrought by this year’s collapse in oil prices, which squeezed the firm’s revenues and triggered banks to call in debts.

It’s also the latest disaster to hit the commodity trading community in Singapore, among the biggest globally alongside Geneva, London and Houston. The city-sate in recent years has seen the collapse of two other big names in the industry, Noble Group Ltd. and Agritrade International Pte, and a rogue oil trader racking up millions of dollars in losses.

Hin Leong, founded in 1963 by Lim Oon Kuin, is seeking Singapore court protection from its lenders. In filings seen by Bloomberg, it said the company hid about $800 million in losses incurred from futures trading over the years on the orders of founder Lim. It also sold some of the millions of barrels of fuel it had used as collateral to secure loans from its banks, according to the documents.

Separately, Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority said in an email Tuesday that it’s “monitoring this case and will assess if further action is warranted.” Meanwhile, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the nation’s financial regulator and central bank, has been in contact with Hin Leong’s bank creditors, according to people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity as the matter is confidential.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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