Two of the four banks suing Asia Pacific Breweries have dropped their lawsuits against the brewer.

APB, which is a joint venture between Fraser & Neave and Heineken, said yesterday (8 October) that Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have applied to the Singapore High Court to withdraw their claims against the brewer.

The two banks, along with Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken and Bayersiche Hypo-und Vereinsbank Aktiengesellschaft, were chasing APB for the S$117m (US$79.5m) its former finance manager, Chia Teck Leng, confessed to stealing from the four.

In 2004, Chia pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and eight counts of cheating, using the funds to play in casinos around the world.

"APB is pleased to learn of the decision by Mizuho and Sumitomo to withdraw their claims," the brewer said. "It is testimony to its stand that APB is a victim of fraud as Chia Teck Leng acted alone. His actions were not discovered as the banks were lax in their due diligence.

"Ultimately, the banks' over-eagerness, indiscretion and oversight caused them to be careless in their checks and they failed to discover the forgeries that were used to open the bank accounts, accepting Chia as a sole signatory."

APB concluded that it believes it is not responsible for the loan repayments, adding that it will "continue to vigorously defend the claims by the remaining two banks".