Director rejects Sakae's claims

SINGAPORE - Sakae Holdings' non-executive director Andy Ong Siew Kwee has denied all claims of financial impropriety levelled against him by the sushi restaurant chain.

Earlier this month, Mr Ong was asked by Sakae's board to resign, after an inquiry by external auditors found him responsible for irregular financial transactions. He has not done so.

The transactions in question occurred at Griffin Real Estate Investment Holdings, an associate company of Sakae.

Sakae chairman and chief executive Douglas Foo alleged that Mr Ong's actions led to a $34 million loss by Griffin.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Ong rejected the allegations, and said that he has appointed Rajah & Tann to represent him. He also offered an explanation of the use of the $34 million in question.

Mr Ong said $16 million was used as compensation for lease severance by Griffin to ERC Institute, for the office lease of spaces in North Bridge Commercial Complex. He added that the compensation allowed Griffin to fetch a higher lease price through the splitting of the gross leasable area into smaller retail strata titles.

Mr Ong is chairman and group chief executive of ERC Holdings; it has business interests in education, real estate and hospitality.

Another $10 million was loaned by Griffin to ERC Unicampus which, he claimed, was approved by Mr Foo by way of director's resolution. Mr Ong also said Mr Foo is the single largest shareholder of ERC Unicampus.

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