Singapore police investigate firm linked to Newcastle United bidders

Singapore police investigate firm linked to Newcastle United bidders

Screengrab of Bellagraph Nova Group website
A screengrab of Bellagraph Nova Group's website.

SINGAPORE: Singapore police are investigating a company linked to two entrepreneurs trying to buy Newcastle United after an accounting firm lodged a police report over unauthorised signatures on the group's financial statements.

The two Singaporean entrepreneurs, cousins Terence and Nelson Loh, head the Bellagraph Nova Group along with a Chinese business partner.

The group's bid to buy the English Premier League football club hit a snag after reports emerged last month of manipulated photos purporting to show former US president Barack Obama in a meeting with its founders in Paris, among other inconsistent claims.

Ernst and Young said on Saturday (Sep 19) it was never the auditors of Novena Global Health Group that was incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

READ: Former US ambassador quits Singapore firm linked to Newcastle United bidders

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"Ernst & Young LLP were the auditors of Novena Global Healthcare Pte Ltd (a Singapore incorporated company), a subsidiary of Novena Global Healthcare Group, for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017," a spokesperson said.

"We were not appointed as auditors of and did not sign off on the financial statements of Novena Global Healthcare Pte Ltd for any subsequent years."

In response to CNA's queries, the police confirmed that a report was lodged and said they were looking into the matter.

The Novena Global Healthcare Group is owned by the Lohs, according to the Straits Times.

Terence Loh denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer, the newspaper reported.

AFP has reached out to Terence and Nelson Loh for comment.

BN Group's bid came after a Saudi-backed consortium withdrew its offer to buy Newcastle in late July, following a months-long wait for Premier League approval. 

Newcastle United
Fans gather outside St James' Park prior to a 2018 Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea. (File Photo: Matthew Mohan)

The company has blamed "errant individuals" for the doctored Obama photographs.

It has made other questionable claims, including that it is headquartered at a prestigious Paris address.

A visit by an AFP reporter found that the Paris office address belongs to workspace provider Regus. AFP also found that no company named Bellagraph Nova Group or BN Group is registered in France.

The Lohs are also controlling shareholders in professional advisory services firm Axington, which saw a string of resignations from its board after the revelations about Bellagraph Nova surfaced, including of Kirk Wagar, the former US ambassador to Singapore.

Source: AFP/lk