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SINGAPORE: Asia Pacific Breweries faces lawsuit

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Asia Pacific Breweries has entered a court case after four banks claimed the company owes them money because a former employee used funds for gambling.

Today (1 October), Singapore's High Court began a hearing of the lawsuit filed against APB after its Singapore unit's former finance manager pleaded guilty in 2004 to six counts of forgery and eight counts of cheating.

In 2004, Chia Teck Leng, confessed to cheating Germany's Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank, Sweden's Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, and Japanese banks Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and  Mizuho Corporate Bank out of S$117m (US$79m) between 1999 and 2003.

As the finance manager of APB, Leng allegedly submitted to the banks false documents with forged signatures of top executives and used the money borrowed from the banks in casinos around the world. 

In the lawsuit, the banks claim that since Leng was acting as finance manager of  APB's Singapore unit when he borrowed funds, the company is bound by the terms of the loans to repay the money. 

APB, a joint venture between  Fraser & Neave and Dutch brewer Heineken, said it plans to "vigorously" dispute the claims.

Local press reportedly cite Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank as seeking US$30m, while Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken is claiming $25m, plus interest. Sumitomo Mitsui is seeking about $7m, while Mizuho Corporate is asking for US$8m.  

The hearing will last two months.  

In August, the company reported that profit before interest and tax (PBIT) slipped by 5.9% in the three months to the end of June, falling to SGD61.3m (US$40.2m). Organically, PBIT rose by 22.3%, the company noted, hitting SGD10.7m.

For the nine months of its fiscal year so far, PBIT was up by only 3% to SGD210m.


Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: Heineken

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