Boss accused of pocketing $400k in $1m loan deal

Stephen Tay Thian Boon is said to have asked for $400,000 to help a friend get a loan.

SINGAPORE - The head of Singapore-listed magazine publisher and property company Eastern Holdings is on trial over a $1 million loan his company made almost 10 years ago.

In a five-day hearing that began yesterday, chairman and managing director Stephen Tay Thian Boon, 56, is accused of pocketing $400,000 of the sum and failing to declare this to the Eastern Holdings board in March 2006. He is also accused of cheating the group's financial controller in 2005 into co-signing two cheques by hiding his alleged interest in the loan to Dormitory Investments.

A district court heard that Tay had been approached by personal friend Granner Lim Kian Boo, who previously ran a printing business that dealt with Eastern Holdings.

Mr Lim sought $600,000 from Tay on behalf of the bosses of Dormitory Investments. This was the amount Dormitory Investments needed to borrow to complete a $12 million deal for a foreign worker dormitory at 39, Kaki Bukit Avenue 3.

Tay was interested in helping and wanted $400,000 to "sweeten the deal", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Andre Jumabhoy in his opening statement. But instead of making the loan personally, he got Eastern Holdings to act as the lender, DPP Jumabhoy said.

He received his payment after the loan deal was signed on Jan 13, 2005. The loan would not have been approved in the first place had Tay disclosed his alleged cut, the DPP said.

Tay is defended by veteran criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan, who is handling his first case after a six-month hiatus.

If convicted of failing to disclose his alleged interest in the transaction to Eastern Holdings' board of directors, Tay could be jailed for up to a year or fined up to $5,000.

For cheating and inducing the group's financial controller to co-sign the cheques, he could be jailed for up to seven years and fined if convicted.

The trial continues today.

This article was first published on June 6, 2014.
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