Brunei Prince Claims Associate Used Him as Figurehead

A Brunei prince sued a business associate for inducing him through almost daily meetings and social interactions to inject his electric vehicle business into a Singapore-listed company and then excluding him from decision- making.

Elektromotive Group Ltd. (LEX) Vice Chairman Ang Gee Hing failed to help Prince Abdul Hakeem, the nephew of Brunei’s Sultan, raise funds for the electric vehicle charging business as promised and denied him office space, according to the lawsuit in the Singapore High Court. The first closed hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Ang, who is seeking to throw out the lawsuit, said Hakeem didn’t inject 5 million pounds ($7.9 million) to develop the company as pledged. Hakeem, who quit as Elektromotive’s executive chairman in February, also declined to move into the company’s industrial estate premises, claiming it wasn’t suited for someone of his standing, Ang said in court papers.

Hakeem is seeking S$7.8 million ($6.3 million) for his stake as well as more money for lost business opportunities and damage to his reputation. He invested in the Singapore company, previously a publisher known as Lexicon, as he had confidence in Ang and trusted him, according to the lawsuit. Hakeem was provided with an office in Singapore’s prime Orchard Road shopping belt and left it vacant, Ang said in his court filing.

‘Brushed Aside’

Hakeem, who said he was “a mere figurehead” at Elektromotive, claimed he had expressed his unhappiness to Ang who brushed him aside, according to his complaint.

Samuel Chacko, a lawyer representing Ang, said the lawsuit will be defended and declined to comment further. Hakeem’s lawyer Low Chai Chong didn’t return two calls seeking comment.

Hakeem wasn’t shut out of Elektromotive and was instead encouraged by Ang to exercise his authority, Ang said in his filing. Hakeem treated Ang as an outsider and wasn’t part of his inner circle of friends and advisers, according to the Elektromotive vice chairman.

Elektromotive, which was struggling financially, couldn’t raise funds publicly, contrary to Ang’s claims, according to Hakeem’s lawsuit. The company’s net loss widened to S$13.4 million for the year ended in March from S$5.38 million a year earlier.

Hakeem had claimed that with his father Prince Jefri Bolkiah’s connections and status he could easily persuade the Brunei government to install a national charging network, Ang said in his filing.

Rolls-Royce

Hakeem also said he could tap his close ties with carmakers including Bayerishche Motoren Werke AG, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd. and Aston Martin to sell Elektromotive’s chargers with their electric vehicles, according to Ang’s filing. Elektromotive hasn’t disclosed deals with major carmakers, according to its stock exchange filings.

Ang also discovered questionable deals at Elektromotive’s U.K. unit which resulted in overpayment to individuals including the prince, according to court papers.

Elektromotive started confidential arbitration proceedings against Hakeem and others in April over the stake sale.

The case is Pengiran Muda Abdul Hakeem v Ang Gee Hing. S600/2012. Singapore High Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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