Ex-Sinwa boss wins case against club

The man at the centre of the Sinwa insider dealing case could be in line for a damages payout following a failed bid to suspend him from the Singapore Swimming Club.

Mr Mike Sim - who was fined $153,000 last year while he was executive chairman of the mainboard-listed company - has succeeded in overturning his suspension on a technicality.

It means he could now receive a payout from the club after a High Court judge ordered that potential damages be assessed.

The 69-year-old business consultant was suspended earlier this year after another member complained that his insider-dealing conviction made him an embarrassment.

His wife also received a suspension as their "family category" membership meant they were treated as one.

But the club tripped up by failing to follow the correct procedure.

Two members who had been involved in the hearings were absent when the decision to exclude the couple was made.

On Wednesday, Mr Sim - who has been with the club for almost 40 years - said he was "upset and deeply disappointed" at its bid to oust him.

Meanwhile, others described him as a "model member" and said his suspension would be a loss to the organisation.

Suspending those who have been convicted of serious crimes is common practice for recreational clubs.

Mr Sim's insider-trading fine meant he faced calls to leave and avoid bringing the club into "disrepute".

First, the management committee summoned him to explain his case. It then held another meeting, at which five elected members were present.

But when the decision to suspend him was taken about a week later, only three were there.

Mr Sim's lawyer, Mr R. S. Bajwa, argued that the two missing members meant the case had not been decided before a proper management committee.

But the club, represented by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng and lawyer Chang Man Phing, claimed the suspension was bona fide and within the rules.

It added that the move was entirely reasonable and not based simply on a member's complaint.

The club also denied it had made a hasty decision - pointing out that the committee took legal advice and met three times to deliberate the case.

Its lawyers claimed Mr Sim's conviction was an example of "moral turpitude", which made him no longer suitable to be a member.

But earlier this month, Justice Chan Seng Onn ruled that the suspension was null and void.

The club was ordered to pay $10,000 in legal costs.

However, it is not giving up its bid to oust Mr Sim.

Last week, it told him that it intends to restart the investigation.

The Straits Times understands that the club has dealt with three similar cases in the past, but this is the first time a suspension has been challenged in court.

Mr Sim was convicted after using his girlfriend's account to sell Sinwa shares based on information that was not yet publicly available.

He knew the company was arranging to place 30 million new shares at 0.465 cents each, a court heard last year.

Had this been generally known, it would have affected the share price.

In January 2007, he used the information to sell 849,000 company shares through his girlfriend's trading account.

He later pleaded guilty to one count of insider trading and 24 offences under the Companies Act and the Securities and Futures Act.


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