‘Goh Tong left Genting to Kok Thay’

Originally published in The Edge

A controlling 38.68% stake in Genting Bhd and related assets were left to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, the current chairman and chief executive of the sprawling gaming empire, in 2003 by his late father Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong via the Kok Thay Family Trust, says Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd general manager Gerard Lim Ewe Keng.

Ewe Keng adds that the current feud involving Kok Thay and his brother Datuk Lim Chee Wah, who are at loggerheads with their nephews Joey Lim Keong Yew and Benjamin Lim Keong Hoe, and niece Marie Lim Seok Leng — the children of the late Datuk Lim Tee Keong (Kok Thay and Chee Wah’s elder brother) — is unlikely to impact the current shareholding at Genting and related companies.

Tee Keong died a bankrupt in April 2014.

“The way their father (Goh Tong) set it (the trusts) up is very clear. One tiger, one mountain … never two … three separate trusts, he separated all of them. He made sure the one that was going to run all the public companies was the one he had chosen, and he chose Tan Sri (Lim Kok Thay) in 2003. I think there was a big media (bash) when he handed over the reins,” says Ewe Keng, who is not related to Genting’s Lim family.

The comments by Ewe Keng come on the back of reports by The Edge a few weeks ago that a new suit was filed by Keong Hoe in June this year, seeking to rescind or set aside a power of attorney purportedly given to his uncles Kok Thay and Chee Wah by his grandmother, the late Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua @ Lee Ah Sang. Lee was the wife of gaming mogul Goh Tong who died in 2007. She died in August this year.

The power of attorney purportedly gives Kok Thay and Chee Wah wide powers. Kok Thay, Chee Wah and Lee are the first, second and third defendants in the case.

Ewe Keng says, “We have kept quiet all this while but it has gone too far.”

According to him, Parkview Management Sdn Bhd and other companies, such as Ameline (M) Sdn Bhd, are all trustees of the Kok Thay Family Trust, which leaves the equity in Genting to Kok Thay and his family.

In Genting’s 2016 annual report, Kok Thay is listed as having 68.12 million shares or 1.83% of Genting as at March 2, 2017. Neither he nor Lee were listed as a substantial shareholder.

Kien Huat Realty has a 39.44% stake in Genting while Parkview Management is stated as a trustee of a discretionary trust holding 39.68% equity interest in it.

Checks with the Companies Commission of Malaysia indicate that Parkview Management is the largest shareholder of Kien Huat Realty with a 94.21% stake. Kien Huat International Ltd has the remaining 5.79%.

Parkview Management’s shareholders are Ewe Keng (33.34%), Lee and Kok Thay (16.67% each), Amaline (16.67%) and company secretary Roselind Niap Kam Lian (16.67%).

Ewe Keng’s name appears as a shareholder and director all over the place. “If the shares were really mine, I’d be in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce,” he says.

However, this also means that Lee’s one-sixth share or 16% of Parkview Management means nothing.

Ewe Keng explains, “A trust is not a legal entity. It’s governed by a deed. The person that does all the work is a trustee. So the trustee does not own anything. He only owns on behalf of the trust ... So if you own 100% as trustee, it doesn’t mean you own 100% of anything … it’s actually nothing.”

He adds irritably, “It’s being sensationalised, telling the whole world that grandmother owns one-sixth (of the 40% of Genting), which is not the case … We’ve kept quiet all this while but I think it’s time. Tan Sri (Lim Kok Thay) is a low-profile man, obviously he is not happy with the publicity.”

Another aide of Kok Thay adds that the picture being painted now is not accurate. “It makes it seem like the uncles are not even leaving bones for the nephews (and niece) to chew on but that is not the case.”

It is also noteworthy that there are existing cases in court involving the same parties, albeit with Keong Yew and sister Seok Leng taking the uncles to court over issues with their father’s will and the matter of them being left out of a trust left by their grandfather.

Ewe Keng declines to comment on these matters as they are being heard in court.

The other Lim faction, comprising Keong Yew, Keong Hoe and Seok Leng, was not available to comment for this article.

Genting’s market capitalisation as at last Thursday was RM36.97 billion. Its listed subsidiaries include Genting Malaysia Bhd, Genting Plantations Bhd and Genting Singapore PLC while Genting Energy Ltd is one of its large units.

If Ewe Keng’s statements are accurate, Kok Thay owns a chunk of Goh Tong’s assets.

Genting’s top brass, especially those aligned with Kok Thay, prefer to keep a low profile. But recent developments compelled Ewe Keng to step up to speak on behalf of Kok Thay.

The following is an excerpt of our interview with him.

The Edge: So, what you are saying is that the rest of the companies (which have equity interest in Genting other than Kien Huat Realty) — Parkview Management, Ameline and so on — are all trustee companies?

Gerard Lim Ewe Keng: Yes, they are all trustee companies. They don’t own anything.

Then who really owns Genting?

The (Kok Thay Family) Trust owns it. If it (Parkview Management) owns 40% of Kien Huat, it will be reflected in the NTA, which is only RM13,000 … RM13,000 does not reflect 40% of Genting.

So a trustee company is just holding on behalf of a trust. It does not own the assets, so Puan Sri holds one-sixth of the company but it does not mean she owns one-sixth of Kien Huat or 40% of Genting.

So Puan Sri (Lee) was not left with any part of Genting?

You have to go to court to access the court papers and look it up. Lim Goh Tong’s estate was probated when he died in 2007. When you probate an estate, or his will, you have to write a list of assets. Then you can distribute them to everybody. In his list of assets, there was no chunk of Genting.

In his (Goh Tong’s) will, which is again a public document and is enclosed with the affidavits, where does it say that Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua gets 40% of Genting or any shares in Genting? None, zero.

If she inherited that big a portion of Genting shares, she would by right, by law, be required to declare that she is a substantial shareholder of Genting.

Do we see that in Genting’s annual report? We don’t ... so how can she be a substantial shareholder of Genting?

There were separate trusts for the three sons — the Tee Keong Family Trust, the Kok Thay Family Trust and the Chee Wah Family Trust …

Each trust has its own beneficiaries but the powers of the trustees are being litigated, so we will not comment on what the trustees can and cannot do.

But their first allegation was that Puan Sri owns one-sixth of Parkview (Management), therefore in theory, Puan Sri owns one-sixth of the 40% (of Genting), which is not true.

Why can’t what is in Tee Keong’s trust be disclosed?

It’s being litigated now but it will be disclosed … it will be. At the end of the day, when it comes to trial, it will be litigated and all the documents will be opened, and you can see, what all the documents are.

So, when he (Goh Tong) was alive, the 40% was already given to Kok Thay via the trust .... But this block of shares is perceived to be the family’s wealth.

You can be sure that it is the old man’s (Goh Tong) thinking. He sees a lot of fights in other companies, he sees how they fight, the family will squabble.

So he says, I will give to one, one tiger will rule the mountain. Don’t have three tigers there, three tigers, three opinions, three reasons, 40 things they will want to do.

One tiger rules everything, and he did that.

What are the other assets he gave Chee Wah and the rest?

A lot of it he gave during his lifetime. That we are not privy to. What he gave privately, he could have signed a check to Chee Wah, I don’t know.

You said one tiger to rule the mountain, too many cooks spoil the broth, then he can run his company well, but is it not the family’s wealth? With him controlling (Genting), the other family members will not be able to share the growth and prosperity of Genting ...

This is not his only wealth, you know. Lim Goh Tong was a very wealthy man.

But this is a core asset …

Agreed, but he may have given the daughters whatever, I don’t know, before he died, but please look at his will and read his will … you will see.

And in his will, it also says that out of his will, to the daughter-in-law (Datin Agnes, the late Tee Keong’s wife), to the exclusion of all daughters-in-law, and it’s in the will, RM20 million — that’s not small money. He gave to Marie (his granddaughter) to the exclusion of all grandchildren. I can’t remember — RM20 million or RM30 million.

Why did he give to the exclusion of everybody else? Joey and Ben got nothing, Kok Thay’s children got nothing, Chee Wah’s children got nothing … and this is all in his will.

How long have you worked with the group? Did you work with Tan Sri Lim (Goh Tong)?

No, I did not work with Tan Sri. I worked with Kok Thay all the time.

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