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CapAsia CEO Bastin Sued for Defamation in Singapore

CapAsia’s founding chief executive officer Vijay Sethu sued Johan Bastin, his successor at the Rohatyn Group-owned private equity firm in Singapore, claiming Bastin impugned him by suggesting he was front-running a deal.

Sethu is seeking unspecified damages for defamation and a restraining order against Bastin to stop him from making any further disparaging comments, according to a lawsuit filed in Singapore High Court. Bastin has denied the allegations.

Bastin told three people that Sethu personally bought debt that he had recommended to a company where he was a board member and in which a CapAsia fund had invested, according to the court filing. Bastin as a result suggested Sethu traded with advance knowledge about a deal, known as front-running, which is illegal and unethical, Sethu alleged.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for today.

“Our client’s position is that the lawsuit is entirely without merit,” Bastin’s lawyers Hri Kumar and Shivani Retnam said in an e-mail.

The lawsuit was filed with the “ulterior motive” of harassment, rather than to protect Sethu’s reputation, Bastin, who replaced Sethu as CEO in 2009, said in his defense filing.

“My client is very confident in the Singapore legal system and that the merits of his case will be proved at trial,” Sethu’s lawyer Edmund Kronenburg said.

Sethu, after being replaced as CEO, remained at CapAsia as the head of one of its funds and later as a consultant before leaving in November.

$400 Million

CapAsia manages $400 million in assets across three funds, according to its website. The firm is owned by New York-based Rohatyn, an emerging markets asset manager founded by former JPMorgan Chase & Co. bankers, and Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. CapAsia is the brand name for Capital Advisors Partners (Asia) and was originally a venture between CIMB and South Africa’s Standard Bank Group.

Rohatyn said this month it will buy Citigroup Inc.’s emerging-markets private-equity unit. The combined firm, dubbed TRG, will have more than $7 billion in assets, including about $6 billion in private equity, according to a joint statement.

The case is Vijay Vijendra Sethu v Johan Frans Jozef Maria Bastin, S612/2013. Singapore High Court.

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