PETALING JAYA: Heng Huat Resources Group Bhd executive chairman Ooi Chieng Sim has been remanded by the police to assist with investigations pertaining to developments surrounding ATTA Global Group Bhd, in which Ooi is also the executive chairman.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Heng Huat said Ooi is assisting in the investigations for matters relating to the incident that happened in ATTA which is investigated under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and not for matters related to Heng Huat.
“As per the same announcement, it was noted that the executive chairman’s personal banking accounts and CDS accounts were frozen, ” said Heng Huat in the statement.
“Save for our independent non-executive Ng Chin Nam’s personal banking accounts and trading account and the bankers’ acceptance facility accounts totalling RM3.7mil of the two non-major wholly-owned subsidiaries, namely HK Gua Musang Sdn Bhd and HK Kitaran Sdn Bhd, none of the Heng Huat group and directors’ banking accounts, CDS accounts and assets were frozen.
“The freezing of the facility account by the bank that provides the facility is due to the bank’s internal policy in view of the trading suspension of Heng Huat.”
ATTA Global, in a separate statement, said a portion of the company’s premises located at Prai Industrial Estate, which is tenanted by a third party, had been raided by the police Jan 16 for the investigation of an offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
It said nine banking accounts of the company and its subsidiaries - Duro Metal Industrial (M) Sdn Bhd, SMPC Industries Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Perkilangan Besi Gaya Sdn Bhd and Progerex Sdn Bhd, have been frozen.
Securities maintained in the CDS accounts belonging to the company’s subsidiaries, namely Progerex Sdn Bhd and Park Avenue Construction Sdn Bhd, have been suspended. Some of the group’s motor vehicles had been seized.
ATTA Global said its financials and operations will be substantially affected and had terminated the tenancy agreement of the involved tenant from Jan 20.
It appointed Chiok Kian Chau as acting chairman of the group during the absence of Ooi and an adhoc committee has been formed to oversee operations and address the issues arising from the investigations.
Trading of Heng Huat and ATTA Global was suspended last week on the orders of the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC).
A suspension mandated by the SC is a rarity, and the move by the regulator to suspend the two companies has sparked some interest.
“The direction to Bursa Malaysia was issued pursuant to sections 26 and 28 of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007, following the seizure of the trading accounts of several key individuals involved in these companies by Polis DiRaja Malaysia,” the SC said in a reply to StarBiz.
Ooi serves as the executive chairman of the Main Market-listed ATTA Global and the Ace Market-listed Heng Huat and is a major shareholder of both companies.
The 50-year old Ooi owns a 10.3% stake in ATTA Global and is its third largest shareholder.
He emerged as the single largest shareholder of Heng Huat on Oct 31, 2019 after acquiring a direct stake of 2.95% and a 17.38% indirect stake.
Following this, he was appointed as Heng Huat’s chairman on Nov 1, 2019.
Ooi’s name also appears on the shareholders’ list of several other listed companies on Bursa Malaysia. Interestingly, he is the fourth largest shareholder of Penang state government-controlled PBA Holdings Bhd.
According to its annual report for the financial year of 2018 (FY18), Ooi held a 1.61% stake in PBA.
He also controls a 6.87% equity interest in SEE HUP CONSOLIDATED BHD, as per the company’s FY19 annual report.
In addition, Ooi has a 0.25% direct stake in K-Star Sports Ltd and a 2.71% indirect stake through Skylitech Resources Sdn Bhd.
Some 13 years ago, it was reported by The Star that Ooi was served a five-year jail term and a RM10,000 fine for forging a will. He, however, walked out a free man in 2007 after his conviction was set aside by the High Court.
In 2012, Ooi came under the spotlight again after he resigned unexpectedly as the executive chairman and managing director of financially distressed Hock Lok Siew Corp Bhd (HLS), which manufactured audio speakers.
“His reason for the resignation is due to pressure and stress arising from the court case with Malayan Banking Bhd in relation to the corporate guarantee amounting to RM31.26mil,” the company said in a Bursa Malaysia filing then.
A year later, HLS was delisted from Bursa Malaysia as it failed to submit a financial regularisation plan with regard to its PN17 status.
As recent as last year, Ooi’s name again appeared in the media for trying to requisition Seacera Group Bhd for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).
Ooi, together with two other shareholders namely Lim Seow Chin and Ng Wai Yuan on May 31, 2019 requisitioned for the EGM in order to remove 11 existing ones and appoint seven new directors.
At the moment, it is unknown when the trading suspension on ATTA Global and Heng Huat will be lifted.
ATTA Global is involved in the manufacturing of metal products and property development.
On the other hand, Heng Huat manufactures biomass material and value-added products, as well as its own brands of mattresses and bedding accessories.
Over the last one year, both stocks have been on a downtrend. ATTA Global’s share price has dropped by about 26% to 44.5 sen as of January 16, while Heng Huat has fallen by over 75% to 3.5 sen. Both counters were suspended on Jan 16.
It is worth noting that Heng Huat is at its record-low level currently. ATTA Global has been on a buying spree for real estate companies in 2019, following its venture into property development a year earlier.
In August 2019, the company completed the acquisition of the entire stake in MPSB Venture Sdn Bhd for RM28mil.
In Oct 2019, the acquisition of the RM24mil Climate Attitude Sdn Bhd was completed for RM24mil. In the same month, ATTA Global announced that it will be buying a 55.31% stake in Tetap Gembira Development Sdn Bhd for RM16mil.
Meanwhile, Heng Huat increased its exposure in coconut fibre production after it bought a 97% equity interest in Sabut Kelapa Terengganu Sdn Bhd for RM200,000 in Sept 2019.
Post-acquisition, the company expects to be the single largest market leader in the Malaysian coconut fibre scene, with a market share of approximately 80%.
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