Merrill Asks Singapore Court to Reject Ex-Client’s Suit

Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit asked Singapore’s High Court to reject a former Indonesian private-banking client’s lawsuit for 251 billion rupiah ($26 million) as fraudulent.

Prem Harjani asked the court in a Sept. 27 suit to enforce an award he won in Indonesian courts against Merrill for embezzlement and defamation. Merrill countersued on Nov. 5, saying the award shouldn’t be enforced as it undermines an earlier Singapore judgment that Harjani had defrauded Merrill.

A Merrill unit won $9.4 million from Harjani in the Singapore court in 2010 for failing to pay for shares in a Jakarta-listed company in 2008. Harjani sued two other Merrill units in Indonesia in 2008 and was awarded $26 million in 2010.

“This action is an attempt by Harjani to profit from his fraud and undermine the Singapore proceedings and Singapore judgment,” Merrill said in its Nov. 5 filing. “In furtherance of his fraud, Harjani ran a false and misleading case in the Indonesian proceedings.”

Harjani, who owns Renaissance Capital Management Investment Pte, had claimed Merrill had acted unlawfully by selling the shares which he was entitled to and causing the price to tumble due to a loss of confidence in the stock.

Paul Scanlon, a Hong Kong-based spokesman at Bank of America, declined to comment as did Harjani’s lawyer N. Sreenivasan.

Merrill has requested the Indonesian Supreme Court for a civil review of the Indonesian ruling and to halt its enforcement, according to its Singapore court papers. Harjani hasn’t paid Merrill $7.8 million of the $9.4 million Singapore judgment as of Oct. 2, according to court papers.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch & Co. in September 2008.

There was “overwhelming evidence” that Harjani made a “series of false representations” to Merrill, Singapore High Court Justice Andrew Ang ruled in 2010.

The case is Harjani Prem Ramchand v Merrill Lynch International Bank Ltd (Merchant Bank). S810/2012. Singapore High Court.

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