Goh Jin Hian found liable for S$196 million in losses as company director

He was the director from from Jun. 28, 2011 to Aug. 20, 2019.

Hannah Martens | February 09, 2024, 06:54 PM



Goh Jin Hian, 55, was found liable for US$146 million (S$196 million) in losses as Inter-Pacific Petroleum's (IPP) director.

On Feb. 6, 2024, the High Court judge ruled in favour of the now-solvent marine fuel-supplying company which sued Goh for breaching his director's duty, CNA reported.

Goh is the son of Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and was the director of IPP from Jun. 28, 2011 to Aug. 20, 2019.

According to CNA, IPP claimed that Goh failed to look into certain issues which would have led him to realise the company was being defrauded.

Goh had an obligation to oversee the affairs

The judge, Justice Aedit Abdullah, said in his brief remarks issued on Jan. 24 that Goh had an obligation to oversee the company's affairs as a director, CNA stated.

The judge also said that the evidence showed Goh played an active role in the management of the company, assumed responsibilities and obtained information.

While a director need not know all the details of the company, Justice Abdullah said the evidence showed a lack of knowledge by Goh about IPP's cargo business.

The judge said that three "red flags" should have triggered an investigation by Goh into the company's finances:

  1. About S$177,739,309.49 (US$132 million) was owed to the company.
  2. IPP's bunker licence got suspended which posed a threat to its profitability.
  3. About S$21,005,554.76 (US$15.6 million) was owed to Maybank while IPP's licence was suspended.

"The financial position of the company was suspect, and should have primed the defendant to look further and obtain a picture of the true state of the affairs of the company and monitor what was happening within it. That was his duty as a director," said Justice Abdullah.

The judge said that if Goh performed his duties, the transactions and drawdowns that caused loss to the company would not have been carried out, CNA wrote.

Goh should have persisted

Goh claimed in his defence that there was no breach and no loss caused. He also claimed relief from liability under the Companies Act.

According to the Straits TimesGoh said in his opening statement that IPP’s cargo trades, books and records were directly managed out of its Hong Kong office. Goh claimed that if he was "suspicious" about IPP's finances, and was "inclined" to investigate, it would have required the cooperation of two people in the Hong Kong office.

However, the judge said the evidence did not show that Goh reduced his role to a purely non-executive one after July 2015, and there was a need for him to be aware of and monitor all the activities, including IPP's cargo trading business.

CNA said Goh pointed to certain information within the company to say there was enough basis to be satisfied or not probe more, but the judge rejected it.

Goh argued that the banks breached their duties to the company but the judge found that "speculative" and a separate issue from Goh's liability.

The judge also stated that the Companies Act does not apply to Goh as that requires the court to find the person acted "honestly and reasonably".

In response to the Straits Times, Goh said that he would consider an appeal against the judgement and would discuss it with his lawyers.

Goh facing criminal charges

In September 2023, Goh was charged with offences, including alleged false trading, under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA), related to his former role as the CEO of New Silkroutes Group.

He was handed 39 charges under the Act.

Top photos via  Digiland International Limited & New Silkroutes