Austrian trader blows Minister's cover in failed deals
Austrian trader blows Minister's cover in failed deals on speed-tracking devices
THE MALAY MAIL
Friday, January 24, 2003
Minister to be exposed
AN Austrian businessman is scheduled to hold a Press conference today to reveal discussions he had six years ago with a senior Malaysian Cabinet Minister, his son and a Malaysian businessman over a proposed deal to install speed-tracking devices on commercial vehicles.
However, the proposal of the Austrian, Franz C. Heldwein, who is residing in Malaysia and had a string of business investments here, failed to take off.
Heldwein used to be a substantial shareholder in a public-listed Malaysian company.
A source said this afternoon’s ( Jan 24) scheduled Press conference in Petaling Jaya, on the failed business deal was to “tell all” concerning the deals between a local businessman, the Minister and his family members.
Apparently, Heldwein decided to tell his side of the story after a row between the businessman and the Minister came into the limelight recently.
A source said Heldwein was to supply the speed-tracking devices when the proposal was mooted.
The source said the Minister, his family members and a prominent businessman, were involved in a series of discussions with Heldwein.
“There were several meetings between them but at the end of the day, nothing came out of it,” said the source, adding that while negotiations were going on, there was also a proposal of using a publicly-listed company to acquire Heldwein’s subsidiary in Malaysia and the United States.
The source said the local businessman and the Minister had proposed a publicly-listed company which the businessman and Minister’s family were involved in, to acquire Heldwein’s subsidiaries upon securing the deal.
7:49pm Fri Jan 24th, 2003
Foreign investor claims Ling, his son and Soh owe him RM100 mil
A foreign investor today lodged a police report against Transport Minister Dr Ling Liong Sik, his son and businessman Soh Chee Wen, claiming that the trio owed him RM100 million when a business deal which they negotiated fell through in 1997.
Soh was a close associate of Ling until their relationship turned sour following the financial crisis in 1997.
Franz Christoph Heldwein, an Austrian, said he lodged the report at the Jalan Travers police station in Kuala Lumpur to pave the way for legal proceedings against the trio to recover his losses.
He said he first met the trio when he and his colleagues predicted difficulties to get a company called Isuta Electronics Sdn Bhd, later renamed as IST Amalgamated Sdn Bhd, listed o_n the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) due to tight regulations by the Securities Commission.
"We then approached o_ne Soh Chee Wen (photo) who was then known in the Malaysian corporate arena as a corporate leader, to aid and facilitate with the listing of IST," he told a press conference at Sunway Resort Hotel in Selangor.
He said Soh introduced himself as a business associate of a senior cabinet minister in Malaysia who could not o_nly help with the listing of IST but also create a market base for IST products in both the government and private sectors.
"Soh then proceeded o_n my request to arrange for a meeting with the minister. To my surprise, the meeting between Soh, myself and Dr Ling was fixed immediately at his office... Hee Leong was also present but arrived late," he added.
He said Ling (photo) confirmed at the meeting that "Soh was his business associate and partner" and that he could indeed facilitate with the marketing of IST products which included vehicle tracking device and black boxes for commercial vehicles.
He added to give his assurance, "Ling said that he would use his ‘connection and authority’ to procure Malaysia’s original survey maps which IST could not have obtained."
Heldwein said after the meeting, he notified his business associates and everybody was convinced "that Soh and Ling were business partners and that Ling was using Hee Leong to front his business interests".
Sell controlling stake
The Austrian businessman and his associates thus agreed to sell their controlling stake in another listed company called Isuta Holdings Bhd at a price 30 percent below the market value to a company called Winning Virtue Sdn Bhd, indirectly controlled by Ling and Hee Leong.
"The transaction was done at the time when Ling and Hee Leong also wanted to buy a block of shares in IST through Soh prior to its listing," he said.
However, IST was not listed and did not make any business deal with the Transport Ministry in the end.
According to Heldwein, this was because "after seeking legal counsel, we felt it not prudent to take the survey maps as promised by Ling and it may violate the Official Secrets Act and Internal Security Act".
"There could be implications with regards to the Anti-Corruption Act," he added.
He said he informed Soh of his concerns and called off the release of the survey maps which were then "already in the possession of Ling and Hee Leong".
But Heldwein said the loss to Isuta Holdings which amounted to RM100 million was already incurred because the share transaction to Winning Virtue had been completed.
When asked, the Austrian businessman said he chose to reveal his business dealings with Ling, Soh and Hee Leong now because Soh was back.
Soh was charged with defrauding a now defunct stockbroking firm of RM490 million before he fled the country four years ago. He returned last May to face his charge.
He became a member of both the MCA central committee and presidential council in mid-1990s due to his close ties with Ling, who has been MCA president for 17 years.
Last week, Soh called his former mentor a "liar" for having denied repeatedly their business relationship.
Soh said he was given the top party posts in MCA then because he had helped to develop Dr Ling’s business as well as propel Hee Leong into the corporate world.
Saturday, January 25, 2003 Pg 1 & 4
'Ling offered govt maps'
Police report names MCA head in aborted deal
By B.Suresh Ram
PETALING JAYA: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik offered to procure the country's original survey maps as part of a business deal involving his former political protege, Soh Chee Wen.
Austrian businessman, Franz Christoph Heldwein, 50, made this and other allegations in a police report he lodged against both Ling and Soh yesterday.
The deal, he said, also involved Ling's son, Hee Leong.
Heldwein alleged that the offer of the maps was made by Ling during a meeting related to the proposed public listing of IST Amalgamated Sdn Bhd in 1997.
Ling, he claimed, represented that he would use his "connections and authority" to procure the original maps, which IST could not obtain.
This was supposed to be done through one of Ling's personal assistants, Lee Leck Cheng.
Heldwein, who is based in New York, distributed copies of a police report he had made at the Jalan Travers police station at a press conference at the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel.
The maps, he said, were to be used in IST's business - the manufacture and supply of navigational global positioning systems for black boxes to be used in commercial vehicles.
"After seeking legal counsel and the views of business partners, we felt it was not prudent to accept the survey maps promised by Ling as this may violate the Official Secrets Act and the Internal Security Act," he said.
Heldwein plans to sue Soh and Ling over the aborted deal.
He claimed to have suffered losses in excess of RM100 million, with personal losses amounting to about RM20 million.
In the report, he said the meeting with Ling took place at the Transport Ministry in Damansara during the first quarter of 1997.
"The minister confirmed that Soh was his business associate and partner, and would facilitate the marketing of IST products [in particular the black box project] to relevant government agencies and the private sector," he said.
"Soh represent to me that he was a business associate of a senior cabinet minister in Malaysia, who could use his position to help list IST and also create a market base for the company's products, both at the government and private sector platforms."
Heldwein said the legal action to be taken was over the sale of the controlling block of shares of Isuta Holdings Bhd [now known as IST] at a preferential price [30% below market value] to a company known as Winning Virtue Sdn Bhd.
He believes that this company was directly controlled by Ling and his son Hee Leong.
IST shares were traded at between RM21 and RM22 but were sold at RM13.50, he said. The controlling block, which amounted to more than 50% of the shares, was worth RM60 million.
Heldwein said that Ling and Hee Leong were to have bought, through Soh, a block of shares before the listing.
This acquisition, he claimed, was done simultaneously with the ISB share sale to Winning Virtue.
Asked if he had checked the identity of the shareholders of Winning Virtue, Heldwein said it did not occur to him at that time because "we were meeting in a cabinet minister's office".
"In the meeting, it was represented that Ling and his son were linked to it [Winning Virtue]," he said.
Heldwein said Soh signed the letter of intent of the deal. Ling did not sign any document.
On the purchase of the shares, he said the sales and purchase agreement with Winning Venture was signed by its director, whose name he could not recall.
"Most of the agreements entered upon were in black and white, with copious amounts of correspondence with the share transfer," he said.
On why he waited so long to make the police report as well as undertake legal action, Heldwein said he did so after he heard that Soh had returned to Malaysia after being away for more than three years.
Besides, he had knowledge of certain issues involving the deal recently, he said.
"I would not ledge a police report or plan to file a case without any documentation," he said.
Heldwein said that as a result of the failure of the listing exercise and the deal not going through, IST was wound up and declared insolvent.
THE MALAY MAIL
Sunday, January 25, 2003
AN Austrian businessman is suing Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and businessman Datuk Soh Chee Wen for RM100 million for breach of contract that caused a business to collapse.
Franz C. Heldwein, who arrived from New York, United States, two days ago, lodged a police report containing the allegation against the two men at the Jalan Travers station in Kuala Lumpur at 10.45am yesterday.
Three hours later, accompanied by his lawyer Peter Chen, he repeated his allegation at a Press conference in a hotel in Petaling Jaya.
...He also said as part of their initial business deal to supply the speed tracking devices to commercial vehicles, his company needed the original Malaysian survey maps.
The maps will be used for the global positioning system (GPS) to track down the vehicles.
He alleged that although he was given the maps, he realised the legal implication of obtaining the maps from the Ministry as it was illegal and classified.
He said by then Soh had already acquired the IHB shares which were sold to him at a preferential price.
He said although there was a sale and purchase agreement between WVSB and IST to acquire 30 per cent of IST at RM30 million, the agreement was never fulfilled.
"They paid RM4 million as deposit and the balance was to be paid after the preliminary approval of IST's initial public offer (IPO) from the KLSE." Heldwein said IST wound up due to the failed business venture.
"As the result, I am now trying to recoup the losses." Heldwein claimed he tried several times to get in touch with Dr Ling and Soh to recover his losses but never reached them.
"Now that Soh is back in Malaysia, I am pursuing this matter to get my money back." When asked for a copy of the agreements that had been made, Heldwein said he was sorting matters out with his lawyers and did not have any documents to show.
Soh, when contacted yesterday, admitted there was a business dealing between him, Heldwein and Dr Ling but declined to elaborate.
He said he would wait until the suit is filed before commenting further. He will also seek legal opinion on this matter.
Heldwein is an Austrian citizen who came to Malaysia in 1994 and resided here until 1997 during which time he was a substantial shareholder of IHB.
The Malay Mail contacted Dr Ling at his office yesterday and left several messages with his staff and also on his message recording machine. However, at Press time, he had not called back.
Sunday, January 26, 2003
Ling: Get the probe going
KUALA LUMPUR: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said he wanted police to investigate allegations against him by Austrian businessman Franz Christoph Heldwein “as soon as possible.”
He said he wanted to know the truth behind the allegations and would co-operate 100% with the police.
...Dr Ling said yesterday he was puzzled as to why Heldwein only lodged the report after six years when he (Dr Ling) was in the country all the while.
THE MALAY MAIL
Monday, January 27, 2003
ACA looking into Austrian’s charges against Ling, Soh
The Malay Mail understands that the ACA was curious about "the nature of the business and if the allegations had any truth to it".
"ACA will also obtain a copy of Heldwein's report from the Jalan Travers police station," said a source.
"They will study the contents and establish the nature of the allegations before making any decision on how to deal with the case."
The source said if there is a need to get Heldwein for details, "the ACA will summon him before he leaves the country".
THE MALAY MAIL
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Soh-Hee Leong Deals Exposed
COPIES of documents on businessman Datuk Soh Chee Wen's loans to Ling Hee Leong, son of the Transport Minister, to buy Berjaya Industrial (BI) Bhd are being circulated in MCA circles.
The documents detail some business loans between them in late 1996 and early 1997.
The Malay Mail obtained copies of the documents, some incomplete, yesterday.
Some documents and letters bore the signatures of Ling Hee Leong (henceforth referred to as Ling in this article), his wife Carol Ong, and Soh.
These documents are connected to Linksun Avenue Sdn Bhd, a company owned by Ling, directors' circular resolutions, correspondences between the two men, RHB Equities Sdn Bhd's short-term loan from Soh and Linksun's sale of Autoways Holdings Bhd by Rashid Hussain Securities Sdn Bhd.
Soh once held a major stake in Autoways, a public-listed company on the second board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE).
When contacted yesterday, Soh confirmed such dealings but did not want to elaborate. He said he was surprised how the letters and documents were being circulated.
One of the directors' circular resolution detailed the financial assistance between Soh and Ling when Ling was to acquire BI shares.
In the resolution signed by Ling and Ong, it stated the company accepted Soh's financial assistance to buy BI shares in a form option to Rashid Hussain Securities Sdn Bhd as further security for the margin facilities of RM435 million.
It also stated the transfer of marketable securities to Linksun Avenue to top-up the difference between the purchase price of BI shares, the costs of other charges and the loan sums granted to the company.
It stated that as a security to the loan, Soh was granted the right to buy a number of BI shares to fully offset the sums advanced by him, also the costs and interests.
It also stated that Linksun Avenue authorised Ling to negotiate the terms of the loan agreement with Soh and execute all related documents for and on behalf of the company.
The resolution was dated Dec 11, 1996.
In another directors' circular resolution, signed by Ling and P. Surendran, a member of the company's board of directors, it stated that they accepted a further loan of RM14 million, as a second loan from Soh.
This resolution, dated Jan 14, 1997, stated that Ling was authorised to negotiate the terms of the second loan agreement with Soh.
In Soh's letter dated Jan 14, 1997, he stated that his lawyers would arrange to remit the RM14 million to Rashid Hussain Securities Sdn Bhd.
There was also another "friendly loan" document between Soh and Ling amounting to RM15 million which was given to Ling to buy United Traders Securities shares by Rentak Wira Sdn Bhd.
Soh, in his letter, stated that Ling would have to share 50 per cent of his gains when he disposed of the shares.
If there was no gain, Ling would have to pay an eight per cent interest per year.
In a reply note from Ling dated Nov 13, 1996, he wrote he received RM1.8 million of the RM15 million loan, in a single cheque from Soh's lawyer dated Nov 13, 1996, as an advance to meet the initial costs in purchasing the shares.
The Malay Mail got the fax number to Ling's aide after we contacted Ong Boon Tee, the Press secretary to Ling's father, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik, who's also the MCA president.
Ong confirmed they had received the faxed documents. He said Ling's secretary will call The Malay Mail to comment on the matter but did not.
THE MALAY MAIL
Friday, January 31, 2003
'Abuse Of Power'
DID Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik use his office and the Ministry’s facilities to run his private business?
Businessman Datuk Soh Chee Wen alleged that Dr Ling was doing that in the past.
Yesterday, Soh, a former ally and trusted aide of the MCA president, said: “I was his business partner and I know what he did.”
He said Dr Ling used Ministry’s facilities and his office to conduct his personal business.
“He used the telephone line, fax machines and other facilities in his office for his family business,” he claimed.
“It was an abuse of Government properties for personal gain.”
Dr Ling could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Soh also alleged private meetings with businessmen to secure business deals at the Ministry.
While Soh made allegations against Ling, it must be noted that he himself was a fugitive from the law and had fled the country in 1998 after the authorities began investigating him for irregularities centred on share transactions.
Upon his return, he was whisked off to the Shah Alam court where he was charged with defrauding Omega Securities Sdn Bhd of more than RM520.9 million in share transactions. He pleaded not guilty and the trial began last year.
Yesterday, Soh backed his allegation by providing a copy of a sale agreement between Berjaya Group Berhad and Linksun Avenue Sdn Bhd bearing the Ministry’s fax number and name.
It also showed the Berjaya Group Bhd company and its fax number on top of the document.
“He had used his office to exchange draft faxes between him and the company while drawing up the shares sale agreement,” said Soh.
He said he was aware of Dr Ling’s alleged ‘abuse of power’ as he was advising him and his son, Hee Leong, when they acquired the Berjaya Industrial Berhad equity.
“It is no joy for me to expose or discuss this, but I have no choice as Dr Ling had repeatedly denied our partnership and dealings.”
He said he just wanted to show who is telling the truth.
Soh claimed he had other documents to support his claims and would released them from time to time.
“There is more evidence,” he said.
5:37pm Thu Jan 30th, 2003
‘Ling used ministry office for business', Soh reveals proof
Businessman Soh Chee Wen (right) today revealed a 'document' to prove that Transport Minister Dr Ling Liong Sik (left) had used his government office and time to conduct personal business dealings.
The 'document' was the front cover of a shares sale agreement draft between the minister's family business vehicle Linksun Avenue Sdn Bhd and Berjaya Group Bhd.
Soh told a press conference in Subang Jaya that the draft was faxed from the Transport Ministry to Berjaya at 9.05am o_n Dec 11, 1996.
Copies of the front page of the faxed document which were distributed to the press today had facsimile details o_n the top left which spelt "Kem Pengkutan" (abbreviation of Transport Ministry) and "Berjaya Group Bhd", coupled with their respective fax numbers.
The businessman accused Ling - who is also MCA president - of lying to the public when the latter denied that he had ever used his ministry office for private activities.
"I find no joy in telling all these. My intention is not to discredit him, but to let the people know the truth, whether I had lied or he had lied," said Soh.
The former MCA central committee member added that Ling's use of his office for private business dealings was a clear violation of the Akujanji agreement - a code of conduct for civil servants and university students introduced last year.
He added that his former political mentor's constant denial of their business relationship left him with no choice but to expose the evidence.
Soh claimed he had loaned Ling's family about RM150 million to acquire a 32 percent equity in Berjaya Industrial Bhd and also advised them o_n the deal.
He added that this was how he obtained a copy of the agreement.
"(However), I am not part of this agreement," said the businessman.
Asked if he had any knowledge about the alleged meeting between Ling and New York-based Austrian businessman Franz C Heldwein at the Transport Ministry in 1997, Soh said he can confirm the meeting took place.
He claimed Ling had lied when he denied that the meeting took place, adding that there were other witnesses as well.
Piecing the puzzle
NEW STRAITS TIMES
Friday, March 14, 2003
Tee Keat ups the ante by raising three alleged wrongdoings
Chow Kum Hor
KUALA LUMPUR, March 13: MCA Youth head Datuk Ong Tee Keat said today he will not quit the party because he has not committed three wrongdoings which would justify him leaving the MCA.
In an apparent reply to the ultimatum issued to him by party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik yesterday, Ong said he had decided to stay put as he had not committed the three offences:
- He did not attempt to sell classified information to foreign businessmen for personal profit;
- He has never been a permanent resident of a foreign country even before he was appointed deputy minister; and,
- He did not have assets worth hundreds of millions of ringgit.
He was responding to Dr Ling's ultimatum that he (Ong) should furnish names of MCA leaders engaging triad members or leave the party.
Friday, March 14, 2003
Ng was Aussie PR when appointed senator
by R. Nadeswaran
PETALING JAYA: Deputy Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Ng Yen Yen was a permanent resident of Australia when she took the oath of loyalty to King and country when she was appointed a senator more than nine years ago.
(The) documents (filed with the Australian authorities) list her as a director of an Australian company, Indo Pacific Securities Limited, together with two other Australians and two Malaysians - businessman Datuk Soh Chee Wen and former Air Force chief Tan Sri Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Ngah.
She was a director from April 1992 until she resigned in May 1995. Ng took her oath of office as a senator in August 1993, but nine months earlier she had declared herself as a permanent resident of Australia.
In her resignation letter to the board of directors, she gave her full name as "Senator Dr Ng Yen Yen". The 1992 profile of the directors describe Ng as "a Malaysian qualified and registered medical practitioner".
"She has been living in Australia for approximately three years... and has undertaken substantial business activities concerned with the import of intellectual properties and commodities," the documents said.
8:56pm Fri Mar 14th, 2003
MCA Wanita chief: I’m no longer an Australian PR
Beh Lih Yi
MCA Wanita chief Dr Ng Yen Yen today denied she is a permanent resident of Australia following accusations from a rival party leader which questioned her loyalty to the country.
Ng, who is also deputy minister for culture, arts and tourism, however admitted to holding the status between 1990 and 1995.
In a press statement issued tonight, Ng said she had obtained the status to facilitate her frequent travelling to Australia to look after her three sons who were in their early formative years and studying there.
"My husband and I realised the need to be with them as frequently as possible to ensure the parental bonding within the family, as well as to ensure that they develop a strong value system and strength of character.