Bloomberg News

HSBC, ABN Sue Metals Trader Detained Over Qingdao Probe

July 29, 2014

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and ABN Amro Bank NV sued Chen Jihong, the Singapore national detained in China and said to be at the center of a probe over whether metals were pledged multiple times as collateral for loans.

HSBC asked Singapore’s High Court this month to liquidate Chen’s Zhong Jun Resources (S) Pte after it failed to repay $4.3 million. ABN Amro won an order for Chen to pay it $22 million owed under a loan agreement with Zhong Jun and another of his companies.

Chen, who has been detained in China according to Singapore’s foreign ministry, is the focus of a Chinese probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao port, two bankers assisting with the investigation said last month. Chinese banks have about 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) exposure to Chen’s companies, two China government officials said July 16.

Zhong Jun on July 18 asked Singapore’s High Court to bar HSBC from taking further legal action against it for six months as it attempts to restructure and sell assets including three cars valued at $288,817. The company’s lawyer Wendell Wong declined to comment yesterday. Efforts to contact Chen have been unsuccessful. No one answered two calls to the propaganda office of the Public Security Bureau in Qingdao yesterday.

HSBC had uncommitted loans of $30 million to Zhong Jun under a 2012 facility agreement it plans to enforce in Qingdao, according to Singapore court filings. Gareth Hewett, a Hong Kong-based HSBC spokesman, declined to comment.

$5 Million Apartment

ABN Amro asked the Singapore court to include two of Chen’s properties in the country as part of the $22 million debt repayment. The larger of the two apartments may fetch as much as S$5.75 million ($4.63 million), according to asking prices of similar units on propertyguru.com, a search portal for home buying and rentals. ABN Amro spokesman Alex Evans declined to comment.

Lawyers for ABN Amro and HSBC were allowed to serve their complaints on Chen by posting them on the front door of his home and advertising in local newspapers after repeated attempts to reach him failed, according to court papers.

Chen has also been sued by Standard Chartered (STAN) in Hong Kong for $35.6 million while Shanxi Coal International Energy Group Co. has sued Decheng Mining, a company owned by Chen, its parent and four other firms over payments for industrial metals and alumina, according to a June 26 stock exchange filing.

Chen is listed as a shareholder or director of three other Singapore-based companies and owns at least four properties in the city state, according to court papers.

The cases are The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. v Chen Jihong, S685/2014. ABN Amro Bank NV v Chen Jihong, S644/2014. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. v Zhong Jun Resources (S) Pte, CWU127/2014. Zhong Jun Resources (S) Pte v The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. OS685/2014. Singapore High Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net Khalid Qayum


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