Another Cordlife director arrested amid probe

SINGAPORE: Another director of Cordlife has been arrested amid investigations into the company’s storage lapses that led to about 7,500 damaged cord blood units.

In a bourse filing on May 19, the company announced that its non-independent non-executive director Chen Xiaoling was arrested and subsequently released on bail after attending an interview with the police’s Commercial Affairs Department on May 15.

Like the other seven Cordlife leaders who had been arrested over the past few months, Chen was also arrested for potential breaches of disclosure obligations in relation to the irregular temperatures of a cryogenic storage tank.

The other seven are former group chief executive Tan Poh Lan, chief financial officer Thet Hnin Yi, outgoing acting chairman Ho Choon Hou, outgoing independent directors Yeo Hwee Tiong and Titus Cheong, as well as non-independent non-executive directors Chow Wai Leong and Yiu Ming Yiu.

Processes at the company have been in the spotlight after it was revealed on Nov 30, 2023, that cryopreserved cord blood units in seven of its 22 storage tanks were exposed to suboptimal storage temperatures.

It later emerged that Cordlife’s board knew that one of its tanks had temperature lapses months earlier, in February 2023. The company opted not to disclose the issue then, as it assessed at the time that it would have “no material impact” to the company’s financial performance.

The company faced criticism for such behaviour at a recent AGM held on May 14.

During the AGM, it also revealed that by May 2023 it had confirmed that cord blood units in one of its tanks were affected. Board members said they had then directed the company’s management to put in place a communications plan to reach out to affected customers.

The company did not address why it had not informed parents in May 2023, and clients learnt about the lapses only when the Health Ministry made its announcement in November.

In the bourse filing, the company said given that Chen will be overseeing the ongoing work to investigate and address the lapses, it would be in the interest of the company for Chen to continue serving on the board. Cordlife will continue to assess the suitability of Chen to serve on the board.

The company said: “In addition, the board is also in the process of identifying additional independent directors to strengthen the capabilities of the board who can guide the management on effectively rectifying the company’s lapses, address corporate governance issues, lead the board on risk management, and guide the company on outstanding matters with the various regulators.” — The Straits Times/ANN

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