CIMB alleges suspicious deals between S’pore trader and BP

Two deals mentioned in the CIMB suit involved Russian crude oil on two tankers. (AFP pic)

SINGAPORE: An independent supervisor has been appointed by the High Court here to oversee the restructuring of trader Hontop Energy after its biggest creditor, CIMB, raised concerns about “suspicious” deals involving BP.

Details of the deals were contained in an affidavit filed with the court this week and reviewed by Reuters.

Hontop, the trading arm of Chinese independent refiner China Wanda Holding Group Co Ltd, is one of four commodity trading firms in Singapore which ran into financial trouble as oil prices crashed. CIMB is seeking repayment of US$105 million it lent the company.

In the affidavit requesting the appointment of an independent supervisor to run Hontop’s affairs, CIMB Bank Berhad detailed how it lent Hontop the money to finance two crude oil deals late last year in a section entitled “Suspicious transactions”.

In total, Hintop owes nearly US$470 million to seven banks, according to a list of creditors included in the affidavit.

Accounting firm RSM Corporate Advisory Pte Ltd has been named interim judicial managers following the bank’s application, according to CIMB’s law firm Rajah & Tann and the affidavit.

Hontop Energy and its lawyer TSMP did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment about CIMB’s affidavit and the appointment of RSM. Calls to Wanda’s Dongying headquarters went unanswered.

RSM did not respond to a request for comment. CIMB said it does not disclose or comment on specific names or clients.

BP declined to comment. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, BP’s legal representatives, did not respond to a request for comment.

The deals cited by CIMB in its affidavit involved Hontop buying cargoes from Sugih Energy International Pte Ltd, now known as Aeturnum Energy International Pte Ltd, and telling CIMB it was reselling them to BP Singapore Pte Ltd, a unit of BP.

Focus Law Asia LLC, representing Aeternum Energy, confirmed the transactions with Hontop.

In the first deal, CIMB agreed to finance Hontop’s sale of Russian ESPO crude. The second deal was for one million barrels of Russian Export Blend crude.

Shipping companies named in the affidavit did not respond to a request for comment, and neither did the Singapore police.

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