Former Agritrade International CFO charged with additional counts of cheating financial institutions of US$475 million
SINGAPORE: The former chief financial officer of commodity firm Agritrade International has been charged in court with an additional six counts of cheating, for allegedly deceiving three financial institutions of US$475 million (S$645 million), the police said on Thursday (Jan 6).
In a media release, the Singapore Police Force said Lulu Lim Beng Kim had allegedly deceived the financial institutions into believing that the consolidated financial statements for Agritrade International and its subsidiary companies between 2016 and 2018 were audited.
This was "a fact which she knew to be false", the police said.
"By such manner of deception, Lulu Lim was believed to have dishonestly induced the three financial institutions to deliver moneys through credit facilities to Agritrade International," they said.
The total sum involved in the six charges amounted up to US$475 million in drawdowns from credit facilities.
Lim now faces a total of 20 charges – 19 counts of cheating and one count of abetting the falsification of accounts.
Investigations are ongoing, the police said.
Lim was first charged in September last year with cheating and dishonestly inducing a delivery of property.
She had allegedly cheated the Singapore branch of the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank into believing that 19 bills of lading - documents issued by carriers to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment - had been legally and validly pledged in the bank’s favour, the police said.
This resulted in the bank disbursing US$19.9 million to a supplier of Agritrade International in October 2019.
Each offence of cheating carries a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine. Anyone convicted of falsifying accounts can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined, or both.
Reuters reported in March 2020 that at least 20 banks had accused Agritrade International of fraud.
These included United Overseas Bank and Malaysia’s Maybank, which were said to be owed nearly US$108 million each.
The firm, whose businesses include palm oil and coal, underwent a court-appointed restructuring after it collapsed due to the allegations.