S’pore investor loses suit against Goldman Sachs, must pay $15.5m
Saturday, Apr 04, 2015
K C Vijayan
The Straits Times
A Singaporean investor lost her $50 million law suit against Goldman Sachs in London for alleged breach of contract – and was ordered to pay $15.5 million to the investment bank instead. Ms Quah Su-Ling, the chief executive of public-listed Ipco International, sued Goldman Sachs International for allegedly having “dumped” 65 million of her shares in the market in October 2013, causing a dramatic price fall. Goldman had held the shares in Asiasons, Blumont and LionGold together with other assets as collateral from Ms Quah for a loan facility from which she had drawn about $56 million.Ms Quah failed to pay back the full amount to Goldman when it notified her to do so in October 2013, so the bank sold her shares on the SGX.
But the proceeds, together with sales of the other collateral assets, were not enough to meet her debts to the bank, which set up a counterclaim of $15.5 million against her.
Justice Sue Lascelles Carr, noted last week in London’s Commercial Court that Ms Quah is a “sophisticated private investor permanently resident in Singapore”.
In 2013, she told Goldman that her net worth and net investible assets were between US$50 million (S$68.2 million) and US$100 million.
She also had broad exposure to investing in equities on the Singapore Exchange and at least two years’ experience of buying securities or borrowing against assets on margin, the judge added.
Last month, she applied to amend her suit against Goldman to allege that the bank failed to give her reasonable time to effect payment before issuing the notice of default and terminating the loan facility.
Ms Quah also sought up to $50 million in damages for losses in share sale proceeds under the proposed changes to her suit.
But Justice Carr dismissed her application – ruling it was filed too late.
She struck out her claim and ruled in favour of Goldman’s counterclaim.
In judgment grounds released last week, the judge made clear that Ms Quah’s new claims of alleged contract breaches by Goldman could have been raised “from the very outset”, adding: “There is no good reason for their lateness.”
Justice Carr also noted that she had been probed by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department and had her passport impounded. She had been cleared to appear via video-link had the case proceeded.
The court noted Ms Quah was facing several other claims including one from the Bank of East Asia and arbitration proceedings brought by US-based Interactive Brokers LLC. She also recently settled a claim by Malayan Banking.
Her delay in filing the new case was her own fault for not investigating the merits of her original case in time, the judge said.
She added that the merits of the amended claim were in any case “not sufficiently compelling as to justify granting permission in all the circumstances”.
“This may be seen as a harsh decision given its consequence for Ms Quah. But this is modern-day commercial litigation.”