Woman sues loan guarantor for $540,000

An Indonesian businesswoman lent about $1 million to a man who claimed he needed to raise money to free up a US$7.2 million (S$9 million) inheritance in the bank.

But Mr Stanley Choong Kok Kee, a senior manager in a real estate firm, did not repay the loans, made over four occasions in 2011.

Police investigations are pending after Madam Lena Leowardi and several others who had lent Mr Choong large sums of money made reports against him.

Now, Madam Leowardi, 60, is trying to get back $540,000 of her money in a civil suit against loan guarantor Yeap Cheen Soo, who had pledged his private apartment as collateral in two loan agreements.

Mr Yeap, represented by Mr Ong Ying Ping, contends Madam Leowardi cannot recover the money because the loan agreements were part of an illegal moneylending transaction. Madam Leowardi, represented by Mr S. Gunaseelan, said she got involved because she wanted to help her friend, jewellery shop owner Thomas Tan Boon Chai, get his money back from Mr Choong.

Mr Tan had lent $200,000 to Mr Choong, who wanted to raise the administrative fee to secure the release of his inheritance. Mr Tan eventually handed over about $500,000.

Mr Tan asked Madam Leowardi for help when Mr Choong said he needed one final amount to pay for the release of the inheritance funds.

She agreed but wanted some form of guarantee and an agreement prepared by a lawyer. Mr Choong took her to the office of his lawyer Oliver Quek and introduced her to Mr Yeap, who agreed to sell his apartment if Mr Choong failed to repay the loan. She lent him $200,000 but Mr Choong wanted more and offered his Bishan Housing Board flat as collateral, even though flat owners cannot do so to borrow money.

On Wednesday, in cross-examining Madam Leowardi, Mr Ong suggested she had been motivated by "bonus" payments in extending the loans.

He pointed to notes in which Mr Choong promised to return $1.7 million to her, which was more than the loan amount. But she said the notes were given to her only after she had handed the money to Mr Choong.

The trial continues on Wednesday.


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