S$10 million of oBike Singapore users’ money transferred to Hong Kong

S$10 million of oBike Singapore users’ money transferred to Hong Kong

Liquidators FTI Consulting said letters of demand will be issued to oBike founder Shi Yi to recover the money.

Out of the S$12 million collected from oBike Singapore users, S$10 million was transferred to its Hong Kong office before the company shut down in June, its liquidators said on Thursday (Aug 2). Vimita Mohandas reports. 

SINGAPORE: Out of the S$12 million collected from oBike Singapore users, S$10 million was transferred to its Hong Kong office before the company shut down in June, its liquidators said on Thursday (Aug 2).

FTI Consulting, the liquidator, said the S$10 million was netted off against a loan of S$11 million from oBike Hong Kong to its Singapore office. 

“Some of the transactions are inappropriate given the financial position of the company, and we will be looking at those a lot further,” FTI Consulting’s senior managing director Joshua Taylor said.

“We can look at unwinding that transaction to say ‘no, you do owe the money to oBike Singapore and you need to pay the money to oBike Singapore’, that's what we have communicated,” he added.

Mr Taylor said oBike Singapore users have filed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth of claims and that its Hong Kong office had proposed to pay for this. But FTI Consulting rejected it, as the amount falls short of the S$8.9 million in total that it owed its Singapore users. 

“What it does not take into consideration is all the money of deposit holders who have not filed,” Mr Taylor said. 

READ: Is dockless bike-sharing doomed to fail in Singapore?

He was speaking to reporters at Shaw Tower after FTI Consulting had a three-hour meeting with the bike-sharing firm's Singapore creditors.

The liquidators will be issuing letters of demand to oBike founder Shi Yi, asking for the monies to be returned, Mr Taylor said.

“Even though he was not a director on record, my understanding is that he did have a lot of control over the Singapore operations,” he said.

“We have told Shi Yi that there has to be a process followed and he should refund the monies, and ensure everyone has an opportunity to file their claim,” he added. 

oBike users who attended the meeting on Thursday were asked to vote on whether they wanted FTI Consulting to continue representing them. Almost all of the 29 people who voted wanted the liquidators to continue.

"The most important thing is to get the creditors’ money back. That's what our role is and that's what we'll be doing," Mr Taylor said.

OBIKE USERS LEFT DISAPPOINTED 

“This was a wasted trip, and I had to pay ERP to get here,” said driver Patrick Ler. He had hoped to get a refund at the meeting, he said. 

He said he had tried to fill in a form for a claim online, but he only got through halfway before he stopped, as he had to fill in too many details, including proof that he paid a deposit of S$49. 

Freelance salesperson Patrick Tan, who was unable to enter the 3pm meeting because he arrived late, said he had tried to apply for a refund for his deposit even before news of oBike Singapore shutting down broke. 

He used oBike only once, and was hoping to be able to get a refund. He similarly had a gripe with the claims form. 

“We even have to trace bank records from a year back. It’s tedious,” he said. 

Those who attended were given an email address they could write to instead of filling up the form. 

Housewife Karin Goh, 59, said she left the auditorium where the meeting was being held once she found out the purpose of the meeting was a vote. 

“I don't care who represents us as long as I get back my deposit,” she said.

While she did not think she would be able to get the S$98 in deposits she and her daughter paid, she thought she would get more information on the refund process. 

She said, however, that she will not be putting in too much effort to get the money. 

“If I can get, I get, it doesn't make me a bankrupt, it doesn't make me a millionaire,” she said.

FTI Consulting said that it will keep creditors updated in the interim. Meanwhile, it is working on clearing oBikes off the streets.

Source: CNA/ja(ra)

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